This past March, the first ever State of the Birds Report was published and it’s well worth a download. The report looks at over 800 species of birds across the United States in habitats that range from forests to wetlands to coastlines and oceans to grasslands to deserts. It looks at 40 years of bird population data, assesses the current state of birds and talks about their future. As the narrator of the video states, the results are sobering…..but birds also have some degree of resilience so we have the opportunity now to change the course.
In addition to the excellent information provided in this report, I wanted to point out a bit about how it was produced. The effort was led through the partnership of both non-profit and government organizations, but the work wasn’t just done by paid staff. Citizen Science Volunteers (like you and me) played a key role in gathering and reporting data that was used.
This highlights the importance of the efforts that so many of you are involved in with our International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) Counts, our Bird Atlas and our Christmas Bird Count and it also highlights a wonderful cycle. Data that we gather locally here in Loudoun is fed up into the databases that scientists as well as decision-makers within our government can use to make policies and set direction for restoring and protecting our environment. But, it is also used to create reports like this that enables each of us to see the big picture and turn data into action: restoring habitats, employing well planned habitat management practices (like mowing fields after grassland birds have nested), putting conservation easements in place on properties, letting our backyards be wild places, and so on.
“Birds are the bellwether, not only of their own populations and habitats; they are indicators of the health of the environment that all humans depend upon.”