A recent study revealed that one-in-three birds have vanished since 1970, meaning that in North American, we have 3 billion fewer birds today. This study was a major undertaking by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and couldn’t have been done without the work of citizen scientists.
The numbers are most grim for grassland birds losing 50% of their population, shorebirds are down 37%, and western forest birds have lost 29% of their population. These results show that birds are not adapting well as buildings go up in place of forests and grasslands.
Can you imagine opening your window and not hearing the song of a sparrow ever again? Or seeing a red-winged blackbird on the side of the highway? These common birds are some of the species that have lost a large portion of its population.
There are successes in this story, conservation efforts to save waterfowl, raptors, and turkeys show an increase in populations. Special interest groups and governments have invested in conservation. High-rise buildings give peregrine falcons a nest box and a camera so people can check in on their favorite local raptor. Conservation groups give a bird’s eye view into an eagle nest or a duck pond, and this exposure helps create public awareness.
What else can we do?
Cut down on reflective windows. Nearly 1 billion birds die each year by mistaking reflections for flying space and crash into windows.
People can also keep their purrfect bird hunters inside to chase faux birds. Cats are estimated to kill 2.6 billion birds a year!
Give birds a place to rest or nest by planting native flowers and trees. Flower beds spruce up a yard and give birds a place to rest safely during long flights.
A few things that are not only good for birds, but good for your health too – reduce pesticides, plastics, and drink shade-grown coffee.
And last but not least, join the bird count and become a citizen scientist! Observations are a very important part of science. Join the effort to accurately count the population and give scientists a much better understanding of where conservation efforts are needed. Here are some projects to check out: https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/citizen-science-be-part-of-something-bigger.
Share citizen science with your kids, here are two books that show how fun joining a project can be!
Bat Count: A Citizen Science Story
Jojo is prepping for an exciting night; it’s time for the bat count! Bats have always been a welcome presence during the summers in the family barn. But over the years, the numbers have dwindled as many bats in the area caught white-nose syndrome. Jojo and her family count the bats and send the numbers to scientists who study bats, to see if the bat population can recover. On a summer evening, the family quietly makes their way to the lawn to watch the sky and count the visitors to their farm.
Even kids can get involved in science! Ecologist Dr. Neeti Bathala and Jennifer Keats Curtis collaborate to bring us the story of these adventurous citizen scientists. Leena and her mom volunteer each summer to count the horseshoe crabs that visit their beach. With their dog Bobie at their sides, the duo spends a night on the shore surveying horseshoe crabs who have come to mate and lay eggs. Readers will learn valuable facts about these ancient animals and how they can get involved in the effort to conserve horseshoe crabs.
And, learn a litte about birds in these books!
Long ago, when the world was young, the magpies’ nests were the envy of all other birds. To help the other birds, Maggie Magpie patiently explained how to build a nest. But some birds were impatient and flew off without listening to all the directions, which is why, to this day, birds’ nests come in all different shapes and sizes. This clever retelling of an old English folktale teaches the importance of careful listening.
Can a swan survive without winter migration? Marcel, a young tundra swan, is tired from the first half of a winter migration. One thousand miles is a long way to fly—too long for Marcel, so he hides in the rushes to stay behind while his parents and the flock continue south. But with the lake nearly frozen over, he soon realizes that he is not cut out for life on ice. Other animals offer advice about how to survive the winter, but their ways of living aren’t right for the swan. Hungry and scared, he falls asleep – only to be awakened by a big surprise!
In beautifully detailed photographs, Mary Holland captures the first few months of a baby barred owl’s life. The huge eyes and fluffy feathers will steal the hearts of readers as they learn how barred owl parents ready their young owlets for the big world outside the nest. Follow along as Otis learns to eat, fights with his sister, and prepares for flight.
Find these titles and many more bird books on arbordalepublishing.com. You can also request them from your favorite library or bookstore!