We hope that you find this blog and video engaging and informative. Even more importantly, we hope you will take action to help birds on this 51st Earth Day.
Why is the Northwoods Land Trust (NWLT) talking about birds?
By Troy Walters, NWLT Monitoring & Outreach Coordinator
Now more than ever, bird populations are decreasing.
I knew that birds were in decline, and recently learned that we have lost nearly 3 billion birds since 1970. This astonishing statistic was shared during a four-week course on bird conservation and best practices for land trusts. I asked one of the course presenters, Craig Thompson of the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Program, to share with NWLT in a recorded interview why bird habitat is in such decline and what we can do to help. During the interview, Craig notes that the primary driver of bird declines is habitat loss, and birds serve as bellwethers – indicators that something is awry in our larger environment.
Land trusts fit into bird conservation!
Land trusts are uniquely suited to help as they often work with private landowners which comprise 85% of Wisconsin land ownership. Keeping larger tracts of private property intact and conserved no doubt helps birds find necessary habitat components. Land trusts can use available data to support land protection decisions, such as the Important Bird Areas (IBAs) designations. While these IBA designations do not afford birds any official protection, these areas have important bird habitat components and can serve as catalysts for conservation action.
A changing climate is impacting birds and our lives.
In Eagle River in the early 2000s, it was rare for me to see certain bird species like cardinals and red bellied woodpeckers. By 2010, I recall seeing cardinals with regularity, and red bellied woodpeckers in nearby Rhinelander. While more southern species move north, boreal species in the Northwoods like evening grosbeaks, boreal chickadees, and gray jays are becoming increasingly difficult to find.
As indicated in Audubon’s 2019 report titled, Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink, about two-thirds (389 out of 604 species) are at risk of extinction from climate change using the 3°C warming scenario, which indicates that if we do nothing, the earth is predicted to warm 3°C by the end of the century. The bottom line is that if we don’t take action to curtail a warming climate, bird populations, along with other animal and plant communities, are likely to decline. This will have a measurable impact on humans as well.
We want to share useful information so you can have a positive impact on birds!
There are so many things we can do to help birds. By doing things that help birds, we help ourselves. Keeping cats indoors, using native plants, avoiding pesticides, drinking shade grown coffee, and making your windows safer are all concrete actions that help birds. There are so many resources out there to help educate a person about what can be done; with one of my favorites being Laura Erickson’s book, 101 Ways to Help Birds. If you want to use a tool to help you get outside and contribute to science, check out eBird.
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“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh