A newly released State of the Birds report for the United States reveals a tale of two trends, one hopeful, one dire. Long-term trends of waterfowl show strong increases where investments in wetland conservation have improved conditions for birds and people – but data show birds in the United States are declining overall in every other habitat. It also identifies 70 Tipping Point species that have already declined by 50% or more and stand to lose half of their remaining numbers during the next 50 years if nothing changes – including Great Lakes wetland species like the King Rail and Yellow Rail, beach-dwelling species like the Least Tern, and grassland species like the Bobolink.
“Great Lakes birds are facing significant threats. While waterbirds have greatly benefited from decades of wetland conservation, steep bird declines are still occurring in Great Lakes coastal wetlands and beaches – and in every other habitat including our forests and grasslands,” said Nat Miller, Senior Director of Conservation, Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi Flyway. “The 2022 State of the Birds Report outlines the urgent need to conserve and restore bird habitat before tipping points species like King Rail and Least Tern become endangered."
Without our help, these birds are on a trajectory to losing another 50% of their populations in the next 50 years – but we have a plan to help reverse that trend!
Many species of migratory birds have already left the Great Lakes region and flocked to their winter grounds and many more will follow as fall migration continues. Ever wonder where birds go during their migration? Last month, Audubon and partners launched the Bird Migration Explorer, a first-of-its-kind digital platform that visualizes the journeys of migratory birds. It provides a clear picture of birds epic journeys – now you can witness migration like never before! Learn more about it in the news story, explainer video, or click the link to view the new tool.
Across the Great Lakes region, states are recognizing the important role that renewable energy plays in reducing carbon emissions and contributing to economic growth. Climate-smart agricultural programs, expanding access to solar through net-metering and community solar, and properly-sited transmission lines for utility scale renewable energy projects will be vital for our region to increase our resilience to climate threats and to drive investments into local economies.
Join us as we continue to work with policymakers and leaders across our region to achieve a cleaner, better future. Sign up today to be an Audubon climate advocate, and we will let you know how you can raise your voice to help birds in your community.
Research shows that wetland birds are using Chicagoland wetlands, despite the heavy surrounding urbanization. A new study in northeastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana found that – even at small scales – emergent wetlands or ponds support many wetland bird species. The study also found that, at least in the years surveyed, the level of urbanization had little effect on most of the studied species’ use of such sites, provided the right kinds of habitat were available.
Audubon Great Lakes’ Marsh Bird Monitoring Hub is collecting and sharing wetland bird data with land managers and the public to promote wetlands restoration and maintenance in the region. "Working with land managers is critical to bringing vulnerable marsh birds back," Beilke shared, "and it's encouraging to know that our efforts can make a difference even in heavily impacted and urbanized areas." Learn more about the research and findings.
This week, Audubon Great Lakes staff and chapters met with Great Lakes legislators to discuss the need for solutions that protect Great Lakes seabirds, like the Black Tern and American White Pelican, from threats like overfishing and climate change. Join us and take action to help protect birds and the places they need. #SaveTheSeabirds