Decline of birds startles experts

Hmmmmmm........fewer birds, more bugs, more poison........
Charlie
http://www.kansascity.com/105/story/165081.html
Posted on Mon, Jun. 25, 2007 Decline of birds startles experts A loss of habitat is cited as the primary factor. Some point to global warming. By LES BLUMENTHAL and DARRYL LEVINGS McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON | Are meadowlarks in the meadows now our canaries in the coal mines?
Some of the nation’s most common birds are disappearing at alarming rates.
While loss of such habitat as fringe forests, grasslands and wetlands is believed to be the culprit, there are mounting concerns that global warming could be starting to take a toll.
And the push for ethanol from many fields now lying fallow in the Conservation Reserve Program will bring only more pressure.
The numbers are shocking.
In the past 40 years, populations of the northern bobwhite are down 82 percent and have virtually vanished from parts of its range, something many hunters have known for many seasons.
The count of eastern meadowlarks, reduced by 72 percent; loggerhead shrikes, another grassland denizen, down 71; the shiny common grackle, 61; the whip-poor-will, 57, according to a new Audubon Society analysis.
Fully half of the 20 birds that have seen their populations fall by more than half range in Missouri and Kansas. Other distressed locals include the field, grasshopper and lark sparrows, the American bittern and the northern pintail, a duck.
“These are not rare or exotic birds we are talking about — these are birds that visit our feeders and congregate at nearby lakes and seashores, yet they are disappearing year by year,” said Carol Browner, Audubon chairman and a former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator. “Their decline tells us we have serious work to do, from protecting local habitats to addressing the huge threats from global warming.”
Andy Forbes, ornithologist for Audubon Missouri and the state Department of Conservation, said the “flagship species of the grassland birds,” the greater prairie chicken, is not even on the list and “they’ve really been crashing lately.”
Only a few hundred are left in the state.
“It’s habitat first and foremost. If a species doesn’t have a place to live, what can it do?”
Take the northern pintail, which has dropped by 77 percent nationwide.
Why? Disappearing prairie water holes. The pintails “have a unique foraging strategy that makes them vulnerable.”
Some birds are endangered by the climate changes far north in Canada.
Listed birds from other parts of the country include evening grosbeaks, greater scaups, common terns, snow buntings, little blue herons and rufous hummingbirds.
The declines are not uniform across the nation. In Washington state, evening grosbeaks are down 97 percent.
“I haven’t seen an evening grosbeak in my backyard this year,” Nina Carter, executive director of Audubon Washington, said of a bird that was a frequent visitor in years past to her Olympia, Wash., neighborhood. “What’s happened is pretty incredible.”
“This isn’t so much about the birds, though that is important,” Carter said. “It’s what it means for people, for the environmental health of our communities.”
Nationally, critical common bird habitat is under pressure from urban sprawl, energy development and even the nation’s drive to grow more crops for biofuel, Audubon found.
The meadowlark, for instance, nests in shallow depressions in grasslands. Besides losses to crops and subdivisions, meadows have been reverting back to forest in much of the east.
Some pasture is similarly being lost in Kansas, which also sees extensive grazing and burning in the Flint Hills, said Ken Brunson, diversity coordinator for the state wildlife department. “We’ve seen declines in all our grassland species,” he said, although the prairie chickens, both greater and lesser, are doing well enough in the state.
Meanwhile, such suburban species as geese, robins, crows and some populations of gulls are thriving, said Greg Butcher, who headed the Audubon analysis. “Some of these are getting more abundant than we would like,” he said.
A more popular species, the bluebird, has made a healthy comeback thanks to nesting boxes and mild winters.
The information comes after a review of data from the annual Christmas Bird Count and the U.S. Geological Survey’s annual Breeding Bird Survey. More than 500 species are covered by one or the other survey.
Butcher said he did not expect any of the common birds to go extinct, but he added that steps needed to be taken to protect them, including dealing with the challenges of global warming.
“We know a number of species, robins, bluebirds, crows, are wintering farther north,” Butcher said.
Similarly, the heat is sending some species farther north in Missouri and Kansas, such as the western kingbird, scissortail flycatcher and greater road runner.
“It’s a clear signal they are responding to global warming.”
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Sincerely, John A. Keslick, Jr. Arborist http://home.ccil.org/~treeman and www.treedictionary.com Beware of so-called tree experts who do not understand tree biology. Storms, fires, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions keep reminding us that we are not the boss.
<Charlie> wrote in message

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<Charlie> wrote in message

Global warming doesn't exist. Ask any republican who ignores his electric bill (AC), the big melt at the poles, the fact each automobile makes heat and carbon gases. I was also under the impression my flatulence presents no odor problem.
Since we're talking birds, where to the doves go when it rains and cools off? They were prevalent and highly visible when it wasn't raining so much in my area. Possibly associated with bird head count on the weblink you provided. Dave
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