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State of the Birds — United States of America 2009  

Author:  | Environment, U.S., Wildlife

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took the lead in creating this report through an unprecedented partnership involving the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state wildlife agencies, and nongovernmental organizations as a subcommittee of the U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative.

Birds are a priceless part of America’s heritage. They are beautiful, they are economically important—and they reflect the health of our environment. This State of the Birds report reveals troubling declines of bird populations during the past 40 years—a warning signal of the failing health of our ecosystems. At the same time, we see heartening evidence that strategic land management and conservation action can reverse declines of birds. This report calls attention to the collective efforts needed to protect nature’s resources for the benefit of people and wildlife. …

In the past 200 years, however, the U.S. human population has skyrocketed from about 8 million to 300 million. As we have harvested energy and food, grown industries, and built cities, we have often failed to consider the consequences to nature. During our history, we have lost a part of our natural heritage—and degraded and depleted the resources upon which our quality of life depends. We have lost more than half of our nation’s original wetlands, 98% of our tallgrass prairie, and virtually all virgin forests east of the Rockies. Since the birth of our nation, four American bird species have gone extinct, including the Passenger Pigeon, once the world’s most abundant bird. At least 10 more species are possibly extinct. …

Energy development and exploration have major impacts on aridland birds. Poorly planned energy infrastructure degrades and fragments habitat and provides conditions favorable for invasive plant species. …

Wind turbines, if improperly sited, can fragment grasslands and disrupt nesting activity of game birds such as Lesser Prairie-Chickens. …

Energy development has significant negative effects on birds in North America including habitat loss, reduction in habitat quality, direct mortality, and disruption. Construction, operation, and associated infrastructure of energy development such as oil and gas fields, wind farms, and geothermal fields reduce and fragment habitat. … Roads used for construction often become paths for invasive plants such as cheatgrass to spread. … Construction and operations of energy fields can displace birds and disrupt nesting. Prairie-chickens and sage-grouse avoid nesting near tall structures. Studies show that they usually abandon breeding areas near drilling rigs or wind turbines. …

North American Bird Conservation Initiative, U.S. Committee
American Bird Conservancy
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Klamath Bird Observatory
National Audubon Society
The Nature Conservancy
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Geological Survey

Download original document: “The State of The Birds – United States of America 2009

This article is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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