Posted: July 1, 2007, 12:00 a.m. PDT
National Audubon Society recently released a report, "State of the Birds: Common Birds in Decline,” that listed the top 20 common species with falling population numbers. It defines a common bird as a species with more than 500,000 individuals worldwide and a range of more than 385,000 square miles.
The society analyzed volunteer-gathered data from Audubon’s Christmas Bird Counts and U.S. Geological Survey Breeding Bird Surveys, starting in 1967.
The top 20 birds on the list all experienced a population decline of at least 50 percent. One species, Northern Bobwhite, shrank as much as 82 percent.
Second on the list is Evening Grosbeak, featured on page 35. Its population has decreased 78 percent.
Northern Pintail appears third with a 77 percent decline in its population numbers, while Greater Scaup holds fourth place with a 75 percent decrease.
Boreal Chickadee rounds out the top five with a 73 percent fall in its population numbers.
National Audubon Society stresses that the top 20 species "are not in immediate danger of extinction.” The report serves, instead, as a warning call for the various species’ health, birdwatchers’ delight in their presence and "the overall health of the environment that sustains each of us.”
Individual birdwatchers will affect the birds’ long-term outlook, the society says. "Sound public policy that supports conservation and protects the environment — at national, state and local levels — is essential to the future we share,” the report stated.
The online version of the report (www.audubon.org/bird/stateofthebirds/CBID) includes a What You Can Do page that cites activities like
• protecting local habitat by joining local chapters of the National Audubon Society and conserving Audubon’s Important Bird Areas
• promoting sound agricultural policy, which affects grassland species like Northern Bobwhite
• supporting sustainable forests in the boreal region of the northern United States and Canada, where many species — such as Evening Grosbeak — build nests and raise young
• protecting wetlands, and
• combating invasive, non-native species that disturb healthy ecosystems and providing native plants at home to provide food and shelter to backyard birds.