This afternoon, in Austin, Texas, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the completion of the 2010 State of the Birds report. This is the second major report, following last year’s comprehensive analysis of North America’s bird life and its conservation needs (read the 2009 report or watch a video summary.)
Last year’s report looked at where we were; the 2010 report looks toward the future to contemplate the effects of climate change on bird life.
Threats to birds will likely worsen as climate change alters habitats and changes food supplies, the report concludes. Of particular concern are oceanic birds, which grow slowly and nest on low-lying islands, and Hawaiian birds, which will likely become even more susceptible to the avian malaria that has devastated their populations as mosquitoes move into higher elevations.
Shifts in long-standing climate patterns may make it hard for coastal and grassland birds to adapt. And some common species, such as Common Nighthawks, might suffer as well, according to the report’s summary.
The report sounds a strong voice for bird and habitat conservation—but it’s also a powerful reminder that climate change is a problem of our own making, and one that we still have the power to mitigate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers tips on what you can do and a personal greenhouse gas emissions calculator at their website. And of course it’s a great idea to pass the word to your friends, neighbors, and congressional representatives, too.
The State of the Birds report was prepared as part of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, an effort that includes the Cornell Lab, the American Bird Conservancy, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Klamath Bird Observatory, National Audubon Society, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Nature Conservancy, and the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Geological Survey.
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