Trimmel Gomes/Florida News Connection
A new study from the journal Science shows a steady decline of nearly three billion wild birds in North America since 1970.
Nearly a half-century ago, about 10.1 billion birds used to soar the skies across the United States and Canada. That has dropped by 29%.
Scientists say while the cause varies, from development, agricultural conversion to even sea-level rise, they all stem from human activity. Julie Wraithmell is the executive director of Audubon Florida.
“Things that are really even common showed decline, things like Baltimore orioles, barn swallows,” says Wraithmell. “These are common birds that we see, especially on migration.”
The research led by Cornell University conservation scientist Kenneth Rosenberg covered wild birds.
Also, not all bird populations are shrinking. Thanks to focused efforts, bluebirds are increasing and scientists say people can help keep that trend going by avoiding the use of pesticides and drinking bird-friendly coffee.
Wraithmell says she sees the decline as a clarion call for Florida’s leaders to make Everglades restoration, climate change and protecting lands through the state’s conservation program, Florida Forever, a top priority.
“I think that it underscores just how important it is that we are protecting our landscape, not just for the benefit to watershed and parks for people, but also habitat for wildlife,” says Wraithmell.
Experts say habitat loss was the number one reason for bird loss. There also is a concern and a call for people to keep their cats indoors after a 2015 study showed cats kill 2.6 billion birds each year in North America.
Experts say taking up birdwatching and spreading awareness also can help in increasing the population of birds.
More on the study and #BringBackBirds can be found at www.3billionbirds.org.