Birds connect us to wild spaces and our natural world. They help to pollinate plants, disperse seeds and are bioindicators of ecosystem health. Birds bring people together and give them joy. But now, birds need our help.
Research published in September 2019 by the journal Science shows that there is a net population loss of almost 3 billion birds across all bird species in the continental United States and Canada since 1970. This staggering revelation represents a 29% reduction in total breeding bird abundance, or a loss of more than a quarter of our birds over a single human lifespan.
According to the authors, habitat loss is a driving factor in these widespread declines, particularly agricultural intensification and development. Ken Rosenberg, the study's lead author, says, "We're squeezing the planet so hard in terms of using resources and space, and now we're reaching this tipping point."
We know private lands matter when it comes to bird conservation, as estimates of the land area in the United States that is privately owned range from 60 to 70%. According to an Enterprise op-ed written by David Moulton, a board member of the Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, "Over 90% of the land in Maryland is in private hands, not public parks or wildlife refuges, so private landowners must be part of the solution."
Who better to connect with landowners than land trusts?
In coming weeks on this blog, the Land Trust Alliance will feature stories of land trusts that are helping to curb the bird decline. For more information about how land trusts can help birds, and how birds can benefit land trusts, please visit the Cornell Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative.
Sara Barker is the Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative program leader with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York. Read her Saving Land article here. Below are all the links related to resources in that article.
Links from Sara Barker's Saving Land article, "3 Billion Birds Gone":