Interior Secretary Salazar Presents: State of the Birds 2010 March 12, 2010

Posted by Victor Emanuel

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Victor Emanuel

Victor Emanuel started birding in Texas 69 years ago at the age of eight. His travels have taken him to all the continents, with his areas of concentration being Texas, Ari...

Yesterday, March 11, I attended an event of considerable importance to the world of birds and to me personally. United States Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar came to Austin, Texas for a press conference to announce the release of the 2010 State of the Birds report.

The ceremony was held at the Zilker Botanical Garden, only a few minutes from the VENT office, on a beautiful spring-like day. My friend and naturalist Greg Lasley was the official event photographer. Also present with Secretary Salazar were Paul Schmidt, Assistant Director Migratory Bird Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; John Hoskins, North American Bird Conservation Initiative (national chair); Miyoko Chu, Director of Communications, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology; and Glenn Olson, O’Brien Conservation Chair, National Audubon Society.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar delivering The State of the Birds: 2010 Report in Zilker Park, Austin, Texas, March 11, 2010.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar delivering The State of the Birds: 2010 Report in Zilker Park, Austin, Texas, March 11, 2010.— Photo: Barry Lyon

 

The first State of the Birds report, released in March 2009, revealed that nearly a third of the nation's 800 bird species are considered endangered, threatened, or in significant decline, and recommended actions that can be taken to help reverse those declines. The 2010 report, a collaboration of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and experts from the nation's leading conservation organizations (including the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, American Bird Conservancy, National Audubon Society, and Nature Conservancy), shows that climate changes will have an increasingly negative effect on bird species in all habitats, with oceanic and Hawaiian birds in greatest danger. Among a list of key findings, the report identified common bird species such as the American Oystercatcher, Common Nighthawk, and Northern Pintail that are likely to become species of concern as a result of climate change.
 
Commenting on the report, Dr. Kenneth Rosenberg, Director of Conservation Science at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology said, "Birds are excellent indicators of the health of our environment, and right now they are telling us an important story about climate change. Many species of conservation concern will face heightened threats, giving us an increased sense of urgency to protect and conserve vital bird habitat." 

VENT is very glad to see the issues of bird conservation and the future of bird populations getting this needed attention, and hopes that more bird habitat will be protected as a result.

To see the report in its entirety, please visit www.stateofthebirds.org


EXCERPTS FROM THE MARCH 11, 2010 STATE OF THE BIRDS NEWS RELEASE

"For well over a century, migratory birds have faced stresses such as commercial hunting, loss of forests, the use of DDT and other pesticides, a loss of wetlands and other key habitat, the introduction of invasive species, and other impacts of human development," Salazar said. "Now they are facing a new threat—climate change—that could dramatically alter their habitat and food supply and push many species towards extinction."

Last week in Anchorage, Alaska the Interior Department opened the first of eight new regional Climate Science Centers that will engage scientists from all of Interior's Bureaus and partners to research climate change impacts, work with land, natural, and cultural resource managers to design adaptation strategies, and engage the public through education initiatives.

The Climate Science Centers will help support a network of new "Landscape Conservation Cooperatives" that will engage federal agencies, tribal, state, and local governmental and non-governmental partners, and the public in crafting practical, landscape-level strategies for managing climate change impacts on land, natural, and cultural resources within the eight regions.

Key findings from the "State of the Birds" climate change report include:

• Oceanic birds are among the most vulnerable species because they don't raise many young each year; they face challenges from a rapidly changing marine ecosystem; and they nest on islands that may be flooded as sea levels rise. All 67 oceanic bird species, such as petrels and albatrosses, are among the most vulnerable birds on Earth to climate change.

• Hawaiian birds such as endangered species Puaiohi and 'Akiapolaau already face multiple threats and are increasingly challenged by mosquito-borne diseases and invasive species as climate change alters their native habitats.

• Birds in coastal, arctic/alpine, and grassland habitats, as well as those on Caribbean and other Pacific islands show intermediate levels of vulnerability; most birds in aridlands, wetlands, and forests show relatively low vulnerability to climate change.

• For bird species that are already of conservation concern such as the golden-cheeked warbler, whooping crane, and spectacled eider, the added vulnerability to climate change may hasten declines or prevent recovery.

• The report identified common bird species such as the American oystercatcher, common nighthawk, and northern pintail that are likely to become species of conservation concern as a result of climate change.

"Birds are excellent indicators of the health of our environment, and right now they are telling us an important story about climate change," said Dr. Kenneth Rosenberg, director of Conservation Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. "Many species of conservation concern will face heightened threats, giving us an increased sense of urgency to protect and conserve vital bird habitats."

The report is the product of a collaborative effort as part of the U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative, between federal and state wildlife agencies, and scientific and conservation organizations including partners from the American Bird Conservancy, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Klamath Bird Observatory, National Audubon Society, The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey.