Over the last 50 years, the United States and Canada have slowly lost 29% of their bird populations — amounting to a loss of nearly 3 billion birds. This shocking loss could be a sign of an ecological crisis, scientists said last week. According to a new study published in Science journal by top ornithologists and government agencies, even common birds such as sparrows and blackbirds have faced declines in North America since 1970.
According to the American Bird Conservancy, strengthening protections for birds at the government level may be the best way to protect them. Defending and strengthening the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, increasing funding for programs to protect habitats, establishing the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, and advancing climate solutions may help reverse the decline.
There are also ways that you can help protect birds at a local level. Here are 7 ways that you can help prevent the rapid decline of our bird population, as suggested by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:
- Create safer windows both day and night: 1 million birds die from hitting windows. Placing murals or screens on the outside of your windows can help prevent these collisions.
- Keep your cats indoors: Cats kill approximately 2.6 billion birds annually. House training your cat can help prevent this.
- Reduce your lawn, add native plants: Lawns and pavement do not offer enough food or shelter for birds. By planting native vegetation you can provide more shelter and nesting areas for birds.
- Avoid pesticides: Pesticides sprayed onto plants can directly affect the bird population. Pesticides are toxic to birds, and when sprayed onto plants can affect the health of birds nesting nearby. By buying organic, you can reduce the use of pesticides. In addition, reduce your own use of pesticides around your home and garden.
- Drink coffee that’s good for birds: Three-quarters of the world’s coffee is grown in the sun, which requires deforestation. Shade-grown coffee provides a canopy for the birds and helps migrant birds survive through the winter. Look for the Bird Friendly Coffee certification next time you are buying your cup o’joe.
- Protect our planet from plastic: Avoid single-use plastics including bags, bottles, wraps, and disposable utensils. It’s far better to choose reusable items, but if you do have disposable plastic, be sure to recycle it.
- Watch birds and share what you see: Monitoring birds is essential to help protect them, but tracking the health of the world’s 10,000 bird species is an immense challenge. There are several projects you can join to help in this cause such as eBird, Project FeederWatch, a Christmas Bird Count, or a Breeding Bird Survey.
Media Borough is keeping birds in mind as it plans for new parks and natural spaces by planting bird friendly trees, shrubs and plants. By doing our part to help save thousands of species of birds, we are helping to better our own future as well. Birds are indicator species, acting as a measurement for overall environmental health. Scientists fear the decline signals a major crisis, since birds play a part in controlling the spread of plants and insects, as noted by CBS News. Declining bird populations are being reported across many news outlets, including Patch, one of Media’s local news sources. David Yarnold, president and CEO of the National Audubon Society, said in a statement to Patch, “The connection between birds and humans is undeniable — we share the same fate. This is a bird emergency with a clear message: the natural world humans depend on is being paved, logged, eroded, and polluted. You don’t need to look hard for the metaphor: birds are the canaries in the coal mine that is the earth’s future.”