2011 State of the Birds Report

Filed under Features

In the United States there are more than a thousand bird species, and of that number, two hundred and fifty-one species are either of conservation concern or on the endangered list. The release of the 2011 State of the Birds Report did bring some good news to the table in regard to the preservation of these threatened species. It researched a staggering 3.5 million square miles across the ocean and 850 million acres of open areas and public spaces, studying the bird populations and their habitats. Even though many bird species do nest in public spaces, it does not protect them from threats.

According to the 2011 State of Birds Report, the reserves, parks and wildlife refuges that provide protected areas for wildlife are assisting in preventing the decline of numerous species, and keeping them away from endangerment. There are, however, a few points that the report tries to highlight, as public awareness of these facts could help birds in the future.

The report states that the United States’ publicly owned land covers nearly one-third of the land, and includes marine protected areas, wildlife refuges, national forests, state parks and national parks. It also states regarding the habitats of ocean birds, of which there are 173 coastal species and 86 species that are ocean birds, that thirty-nine percent of these species are declining and the ecosystems are greatly stressed. When looking at the aridlands, it was found that thirty-nine species here were of great conservation concern and that approximately seventy-five percent of the species found here were also on the decline. Hawaii was red flagged as an area where birds were at a high risk of extinction and that almost eighty percent of the forest birds depended on state land for their survival. The wetlands have seen an increase in the waterfowl population, while grassland birds are under the most threat as only thirteen percent of their habitat is publically owned and populations are therefore in great danger of declining.

Ken Salazar, Interior Secretary, released a statement to the press in regard to the State of the Birds report, saying that the report assists authorities in knowing if conservation efforts in water and on land are being fulfilled as best as they could. He went on to say that even though the report does show that progress is being made, that there was still a way to go and room for improvement. Salazar acknowledged that due to the birds making use of public land, conservation projects can be intensified and save numerous birds from extinction.

Niceforo’s Wren to Enjoy Increased Protection

Filed under Birding Tips

Many people have not even heard of the Niceforo’s Wren – and without help, it is unlikely that that will change any time soon. The species is listed as being Critically Endangered with just fifty of these birds still remaining in the wild. Now, it seems, there may just be a sliver of light on the horizon – a new project designed to increase the bird’s natural habitat and provide it with further protection.

American Bird Conservancy has been working with partner Fundacion ProAves (Colombia) and World Land Trust (US) to secure 3 200 acres of dry forest in the Chicamocha Valley found in Colombia’s eastern Andes. The land, which includes some of the highest quality dry forest still remaining in the region, is to be turned into a reserve that will serve, not only to protect the wren, but also to secure the futures of several more endemic species. Other birds that should benefit from the new arrangement include the endangered Chestnut-bellied Hummingbird and the Apical Flycatcher.

At present there are fewer than 25 pairs of Niceforo’s Wren – 14 of which are living in the area, their lives threatened daily by the destruction caused by man-made fires, while intensive goat grazing continues to destroy their habitat. Knowing this, it was decided that the only way to preserve the species was to acquire the farms where these birds are found and create a safer, more stable environment that should ultimately help them to repopulate. The task means not only acquiring the land, but removing more than 500 goats and 50 heads of cattle. However most will agree that the effort is worth it. George Wallace, the Vice President for the American Bird Conservancy’s International Programs, said: “To be able to give a species that is so close to extinction another chance at survival is a thrilling opportunity, and we are tremendously indebted to the supporters who have made this a reality.” He added: “Now begins the work of protecting the habitat on the ground as well as on paper,” – a task which will most likely prove to be no small feat.

The new reserve will be located near Zapatoca, a small town about one hour from Bucaramanga. Any visitors and students interested in learning more about the project and the animals it aims to protect are invited to visit the reserve if they are able to do so.

Belize is a Bird Watcher’s Paradise

Filed under Features

Travel champion Frommer’s has nominated Belize as one of the best bird watching destinations in the world. It isn’t hard to figure out why, with more than 570 species of resident and migratory birds frequenting this beautiful Central American country. The varied ecosystems found here provide homes to a striking variety of birds making it a true bird watching mecca.

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