The dramatic declines are attributed to the loss of grasslands, forests, wetlands, and other critical habitats from environmental threats such as sprawl, energy development, and the spread of industrialized agriculture. These threats are compounded by the escalating effects of global warming.
These are not rare or exotic birds were talking aboutthese are the birds that visit our feeders and congregate at nearby lakes and seashores and yet they are disappearing day by day, said Audubon chair and former EPA administrator, Carol Browner. Their decline tells us we have serious work to do, from protecting local habitats to addressing the huge threats from global warming.
Species on Audubons list of 20 Common Birds in Decline have seen their populations plummet at least 54% since 1967. The following are among those hardest hit:
Northern Bobwhite populations are down 82% and have largely vanished from northern parts of their range in Wisconsin, Michigan, New York and New England.
Evening Grosbeaks, down nearly 78%.
Northern Pintail populations in the continental U.S. are down nearly 78% due.
Greater Scaup populations that breed in Alaska, but winter in the Great Lakes and along Atlantic to Pacific Coasts are being hard hit by global warming induced melting of permafrost and invasion of southern species; populations are down 75%.
Eastern Meadowlarks, down 71%, are declining as grasslands are lost to agriculture.
Common Terns, have dropped 70%.
Snow Buntings, which breed in Alaska and northern Canada, are down 64%.
Rufous Hummingbird populations have declined 58% as a result of the loss of forest habitat to logging and development.
Whip-poor-wills, down 57%.
Little Blue Herons now number 150,000 in the U.S. and 110,000 in Mexico, down 54% in the U.S. Their decline is driven by wetland loss from development and degradation of water quality, which limits their food supply.
Agricultural and development pressures have driven grassland birds to some of the worst declines. Direct habitat loss continues to be a leading cause for concern, said Audubon Bird Conservation Director Greg Butcher, PhD. But now were seeing the added impact of large-scale environmental problems and policies.