Disappearing Common Birds Send Environmental Wake-up Call
Audubon Analysis Reveals Dramatic Declines for Some of Florida's More Familiar Birds
TALLAHASSEE- Population declines for some of the most recognized and familiar birds in Florida echo the disturbing findings of a new analysis by the National Audubon Society that reveals how local and national threats are combining to take a toll on birds, habitat and the environment across the country.
"These are not rare or exotic birds we're talking about," said Audubon Chairperson and former EPA Administrator, Carol Browner, "these are the birds that visit our feeders and congregate at nearby lakes and seashores and yet they are disappearing day by day."
The national study found that populations of some common birds nosedived over the past 40 years, with several down nearly 80 percent. In Florida, as in the rest of the country, the Northern Bobwhite topped the list, declining here a stunning 96 percent. The dramatic national declines are attributed to the loss of grasslands, healthy forests and wetlands, and other critical habitats from multiple environmental threats such as sprawl, energy development, and the spread of industrialized agriculture. The national study notes that these threats are now compounded by new and broader problems including the escalating effects of global warming and demand for corn-based ethanol.
"Every species is different, and their declines are a function of many factors. But at the most fundamental level, it all boils down to the loss of suitable habitat here in Florida." said David Anderson, Executive Director of Audubon of Florida "These birds need fresh air, clean water and open spaces. As do we all."
Species especially hard hit in Florida include:
"The good news is it's not too late to stop the decline of these birds, and in the process, protect the quality of life for everyone and everything that lives here in Florida." said Anderson "We need to save the wild places that make Florida special, and the lands we do develop, we need to develop intelligently."
Audubon's Common Birds in Decline list stems from the first-ever analysis combining annual sighting data from Audubon's century-old Christmas Bird Count program with results of the annual Breeding Bird Survey conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey. "This is a powerful example of how tens of thousands of volunteer birders, pooling their observations, can make an enormous difference for the creatures they care the most about," said noted natural history writer Scott Weidensaul. "Thanks to their efforts, we have the information. Now all of us - from birders to policy makers - need to take action to keep these species from declining even further."
More information about Audubon's Common Birds in Decline analysis is available at www.audubon.org.
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