Birds in decline across North America

Last week we heard that amphibians — the alleged environmental “canaries in the coal mine” — are dying off in record numbers. But what if birds, not amphibians, are the better environmental indicators, as John Flicker of the National Audubon Society claims? Well, then … we’re still hosed. According to a new report by the group, close to 30 percent of bird species in North America are experiencing a “significant decline.” By analyzing data on 654 species, collected from 1966 to 2003, the group discovered that 36 percent of shrub-land species are disappearing, along with 25 percent of forest species, 23 percent of birds in urban areas, 13 percent in wetlands, and a whopping 70 percent in North America’s grasslands. The primary culprit, the report says, is loss of habitat. It calls for more habitat protections and increased preservation efforts by private landowners and homeowners.