The North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) announced the result of a study in its official webpage this week. The study shows more than 30 percent of the bird species inhabiting Canada, The United States and Mexico are federally listed as endangered, threatened, or as a conservation concern. In the United States alone, there are around 800 species of birds and the bulk of the 3 countries together sums up 1,150. The intention of the announcement is to press governments on taking action.
A lot of birds fly for thousands of kilometers to look for a place to breed, or to avoid winter. Accordingly, the organization wants activists and authorities to work together in conservational efforts. It’s worth noticing NABCI is present in the United States, Canada and Mexico. If everybody works together, they could have a safer path in their annual journeys.
Birds are practical and friendly. Breeding zones can be the temporary home of thousands of birds from different species, which simplifies conservational efforts in these areas.
The human factor plays a significant role for endangered birds species
But what are the threats that put almost 400 species of birds in danger? Well, there is a big group that is working in an almost coordinated way to make bird’s life very hard. And of course one of them is people.
Humanity has grown, and with growth, comes the necessity of space. We have invaded a lot of breeding areas. We are not specifically malicious with birds, but our wastes, specifically plastic, put in danger life in the ocean, for birds and fishes alike.
In addition, we really like having pets, such as cats which are natural bird predators, and there are a lot of felines wherever humans decide to stablish. In breeding areas, predators are a huge problem because eggs are defenseless against them. Cats may not seem as a big threat to birds, but rats? That is another story. Rodents are also a part of our society, we don’t like them, but wherever we go, there they are.
There is a lot governments can do about it. For example, they could label breeding zones as “sensitive areas” where human activity includes conservation efforts. Also, they could work with enthusiast and activists to create programs that help in the conservation of relevant areas, but not only in the United States, Canada and Mexico have to be included. These activities would have to be enforced by federal law, which means the government has to create policies that protect birds and their environment. Having natural free pollinators is important enough, but if we consider the economic loss of losing 30% of bird species in North America, people would be alarmed. The bird watching activity alone reports revenues on the billions of dollars.
— Boreal Songbird Init (@borealsongbird) May 12, 2016
Together we stand, divided we fall
If everybody gets involved, the organization along with people’s help might make a difference, but it’s a long shot. There is a bigger and more ominous factor that puts these creatures in danger, climate change. The debate is on, are human beings causing global warming? That could be irrelevant in order to solve the problem. The true is it is happening, and it’s affecting every living thing on the planet. But according to a study performed by the National Audubon Society, the elevation of Earth’s temperature could leave more than 500 species of birds in North America without breeding zones. Additionally to the 314 birds that could even lose their homes.
The research group studied the migratory data of bird species in the new continent and realized that by 2080, the temperatures in their habitats will be totally different. Assuming that they don’t want or are unable to change they preference in this regard, a lot of bird species might disappear forever.
Birds like the Common Loon, which breeds in Canada and northern United States in summer, and the Bird’s Sparrow, a migrating bird present in all North America could lose their homes. In fact, 9 states could see as their bird population vanishes.
Against this kind of threat, there is not much they can do for themselves. It is part of the Earth’s natural cycle, when temperature changes, animals have to move. New home, new neighbors, and for birds, this means more predators and more competition for resources.
There are a lot of factors, yes, but NABCI says there is a chance of helping these creatures, and there are also a lot of benefits for our society.
More than decoration, a symbol
Birds have wondered artists since the beginning of history. Poets, sculptors and even modern day performers have been inspired by them. In fact, there is a very famous hobby called ‘Bird watching’ which is more popular than expected in the United States.
However, these creatures also play a very important role in the delicate cycle of life. For example, there is a group called pollinators, and Hummingbirds are part of it. They eat the nectar in some flowers or other plants and while at it, pollen gets stuck on them. Then, they go and feed from other plants taking the pollen into another vessel. They basically plant trees.
Some of them spread seeds when they feed from fruit. Also, the scavenger type, often considered ugly or bad luck signs, play a major part by clearing carcasses and thus, putting nutrients back into the food chain.
The economy also benefits from these fellows. Professional fishermen often use birds as guides to predict storms and detect fishing spots, among many other things.