From: The National Audubon Society
Published October 19, 2004 04:15 PM

Audubon State Of The Birds Report

Nearly 30 Percent of North America's Birds are in Significant Decline, Signaling Degraded Environmental Conditions

New York, NY, Tuesday, October 19, 2004 – The National Audubon Society has released the first national “The State of the Birds” report documenting the health and abundance of North America’s birds. Appearing in the October issue of Audubon Magazine, “The State of the Birds” paints a disturbing picture. Almost 30 percent of North America’s bird species are in “significant decline.” The overall state of the birds shows:

70 % of grassland species are in statistically significant declines
36 % of shrubland bird species are declining significantly
25 % of forest bird species are declining significantly
13 % of wetland bird species are declining significantly
23 % of bird species in urban areas are declining significantly

According to the “State of the Birds,” these declines are abnormal. Not part of the natural cyclical rise and fall in bird populations, “statistically significant declines” are due to outside factors such as loss of native grasslands, overgrazing of grassland and shrubland, development of wetlands, bad forest management, invasive species, pollution, and poor land use decisions.

“Like the canary in the coal mine warning the miner of danger ahead, birds are an indicator of environmental and human health,” said Audubon President John Flicker. “Birds signal that we are at risk next.” Flicker went on to say, “People created these problems and people can solve them if we act now.”

Compiled by Audubon Scientist Greg Butcher, the “State of the Birds” analysis makes the case for private and public action, especially in strengthening, not weakening, existing environmental protections and more rigorously supervising their enforcement. Based on the report’s findings, Audubon is advocating for improved grassland, forest, and wetland protection, stronger pollution controls, partnerships with private landowners, and backyard habitat programs for homeowners.

Birds not only serve as reliable indicators of environmental conditions, they also contribute greatly to the U.S. economy. Keeping birds – and their home habitats – in good condition is not only a good conservation policy, it is also good business.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, 69 million Americans – one-third of all adults in this country - call themselves birdwatchers. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service notes that they contribute at least $32 billion in retail sales, $85 billion in overall economic output, and $13 billion in state and federal taxes, creating 863,406 jobs. An analysis of expenditures is available on a state-by-state breakdown.

“Birds also contribute to the bottom line in more subtle ways, providing free pest and weed control, distributing seeds, and pollinating flowers and crops,” continued Flicker. “We simply cannot afford to ignore the state of the birds.”

Audubon’s “State of the Birds” summarizes the status of nearly 700 birds species native to the continental United States, focusing on the condition of species in each of five habitat types: grasslands, shrublands, forests, wetlands, and urban areas (the fastest growing habitat type in the U.S.).

A digest of the report was published in the October issue of Audubon magazine,, and further analysis is available on the Audubon website,

High-resolution bird images are available for media at

Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Our national network of community-based nature centers and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in positive conservation experiences.

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For more information contact:

Linda Vanderveer
Media Manager
National Audubon Society
700 Broadway
NY, NY 10003
Telephone: 212-979-3197

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