Troubling Stats for “State of the Birds”

We want more tweets. Please.

The Department of the Interior and the USDA issued its annual State of the Birds 2011 report and humanity has some ‘splaining to do. The document assesses birds on public lands and waters where more than 300 species live. Sure, the government has made improvements on public lands – and there have been some positive turns especially when it comes to the status of the California condor – but the thrust of the report is that many bird species are suffering with numbers dwindling. In fact, the report states that one of out every four bird species on public land is in peril.

Of particular note for SoCal birds are those that dwell in the Mojave Desert where 75 percent of those species are in decline. Other birds facing obstacles are California gnatcatchers that live in grasslands, mainly on Department of Defense lands such as Camp Pendleton. According to the American Bird Conservancy, half of that population is in up-for-grabs.

Carolyn Lochhead of the San Francisco Chronicle writes:

The report finds that more birds are in danger of extinction in Hawaii than anywhere else in the United States. As budget pressure intensifies in Washington, keep in mind the trade-offs between programs such as Medicare, defense spending and competing domestic programs such as conservation. There is no free lunch.

While, yes indeed, when it comes to politics, it’s always a “balance this” with a  “balance that” dilemma. We get it. But we hope that the “State of the Birds” report gives our feathered critters greater importance in the American landscape rather than just simply giving them the bird.

– Brenda Rees, editor