20 Jan 2011

Study outlines steps to protect declining North American landbird populations

By Nature.Canada
A recent study carried out by scientists from Canada, Mexico and the United States, including several BirdLife Partners found that of the 882 native landbirds shared across borders, 17% (148 species) need immediate conservation action. The report, Saving Our Shared Birds, an initiative of Partners in Flight, assessed the status of all 882 shared landbirds, and used their findings to rank the vulnerability of each species. The 148 species identified as most vulnerable include:
  • 44 species having limited distributions
  • 80 tropical species which depend on deciduous, highland and evergreen forests in Mexico
  • 24 species that occur in temperate-zone forests, grasslands and aridland habitats during the breeding season.
Hawk-eagles, wood partridges, Cyanolyca jays and macaws are some of the birds included in the list of 148 species. As is the case for biodiversity, habitat loss is the greatest threat to these birds. The report concludes with six steps that Canada, Mexico and the United States must take to reverse the trend of declining North American landbird populations: 1. Protect and recover species at greatest risk by establishing protected areas and fully implementing endangered species laws. 2. Conserve habitats and ecosystem functions through policy changes that result in more sustainable agricultural, forestry and urban planning practices. 3. Reduce bird mortality by adopting measures that are effective in reducing bird mortality from collisions with windows or tall buildings, poisoning from pesticides and unsustainable hunting and trapping. 4. Expand our knowledge base for conservation by acquiring a better understanding of bird distribution patterns; connectivity between locations; population responses to management practices; and the cumulative effects of human-caused bird mortality. 5. Engage people in conservation about birds, and encourage the participation of local communities through citizen science programs and programs that promote the benefits of conserving birds to those who depend on them for their well-being. 6. Increase the power of international partnerships by sharing and transferring information and knowledge through partnerships such as regional alliances, international joint ventures and community-based partnerships, as well as develop new mechanisms to engage business, industry, and NGOs. We hope the Government of Canada will adopt these recommendations, and by doing so, make significant progress towards the conservation of North American landbirds.