Described as the most comprehensive survey of American bird life, the report, “The U.S. State of the Birds,” analyzed changes in the bird population over the last 40 years. “This report should be a call to action,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said at a news conference in Washington.
Citing surveys by government agencies, conservation organizations and citizen volunteers, the report said that the population of grassland birds had declined by 40 percent and birds in arid lands by 30 percent. It estimated that 39 percent of bird species that depend on American coastal waters were in decline.
Many forest birds are threatened by urban sprawl, logging, wildfires and “a barrage of exotic forest pests and disease,” the study said.
In Hawaii, the home of more than a third of American bird species, the situation is particularly grim, the report said. Most of that state’s bird species are in danger. Climate change will make things worse, and work is urgently needed to prevent “a global tragedy” of bird loss, the report added.
But there was also an upbeat side to the news conference. The study found that herons, egrets, ducks and other birds that benefit from wetlands conservation were rebounding. Findings like this “show us that conservation can really work,” Mr. Salazar said.