Birds in every U.S. region will be impacted by climate change, says new report

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A new report, released from the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, highlights the troubling decline of bird populations in the U.S. over the last 40 years.  The State of the Birds: 2010 Report on Climate Change is a report, released March 11, 2010, about climate change imperiling the nation’s birds.

The report, generated through collaboration between the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI's U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) and leading conservation organizations, builds on the conclusions from the 2009 report, which showed the troubling decline of bird populations in the U.S. over the last 40 years— “a third of the nation's 800 bird species are endangered, threatened or in significant decline.” This report highlights how climate change will further imperil bird species already under stress from habitat loss, invasive species and other environmental threats.

“For well over a century, migratory birds have faced stresses such as commercial hunting, loss of forests,  the use of DDT and other pesticides, a loss of wetlands and other key habitat, the introduction of invasive species, and other impacts of human development,” Secretary Salazar stated in the Department of Interior (DOI) press release. “Now they are facing a new threat--climate change--that could dramatically alter their habitat and food supply and push many species towards extinction.”

According to the report, bird species in all habitats will be increasingly impacted by climate change, with oceanic and Hawaiian birds in greatest peril. The DOI press release states, “All 67 oceanic bird species, such as petrels and albatrosses, are among the most vulnerable birds on Earth to climate change… Common bird species such as the American oystercatcher, common nighthawk, and northern pintail…are likely to become species of conservation concern as a result of climate change.”

For more key findings from the report, click here.

“Just as they did in 1962 when Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, our migratory birds are sending us a message about the health of our planet,” stated Secretary Salazar. “That is why--for the first time ever--the Department of the Interior has deployed a coordinated strategy to plan for and respond to the impacts of climate change on the resources we manage.”

Last week in Anchorage, Alaska, DOI opened the first of 8 regional Climate Change Centers. These centers will engage scientists within DOI and outside partners to study climate change impacts, work with land managers, craft adaptation strategies, and engage the public. (see, Dept. of Interior launches first-ever strategy to address current and future U.S. climate impacts, WWF blog, 9/17/09).

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