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#1 Sep-09-2014 04:55:pm

From: England (North)
Registered: Sep-23-2008
Posts: 3470

Growing threat to American birds, says report

Martha the passenger pigeon, who died 100 years ago, is being remembered this month as a prescient symbol of what can happen when man meets nature. A comprehensive new report finds that many more American bird species could meet the same fate.

Passenger pigeons were once the most common bird in North America - if not the world- but rapid land development in the 19th Century forced them from their natural forest habitat. Huge flocks descended on farms, destroying crops and livelihoods, and their doom was sealed. Considered a major pest (and a valuable source of meat and feathers), they were relentlessly hunted down.

On 1 September 1914, round about noon, Martha, the last of her species, died in the Cincinnati Zoo. Ectopistes migratorius, once numbering in the billions, joined the ranks of the dodo and the great auk.

One hundred years later, it is tempting think that we know better. But as a new report today makes clear, birds across the US are in deep trouble.

"Right now, about a third of all bird species in the US are in decline," says Steve Holmer of the American Bird Conservancy, one of the 23 organisations that contributed to the State of the Birds report, the most comprehensive review of bird trends and data ever undertaken in the US.

"The decline points to a very broad-scale problem where we're seeing habitat loss and a variety of threats," he says. "We're particularly concerned about the birds that live in deserts and grasslands in the West, such as the sage grouse. These lands are being heavily used and there's a great deal of oil and gas development, so it's created a huge conservation challenge."

Birds living on the coasts are faring no better. Almost half of all shorebird species, such as ruddy turnstones, red knots and piping plovers, are either endangered or at risk of becoming endangered.

In Hawaii the situation is even worse.

"Hawaii is the extinction capital of the world," says Pete Marra, director of the Smithsonian Institution's Migratory Bird Center. "We've seen about 10 extinctions in the past 40 years and all 33 species of endemic Hawaiian birds are in trouble."

Avian malaria is one of the biggest threats facing Hawaiian birds. The birds have no natural immunity to the disease.

"There are other invasive species there like cats, rats and mongoose," says Marra. "Biologists are working very hard to create enclosures to protect bird populations and keep those invasive species out or even remove them."

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-29116412

Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States. Ask any Native American.




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