Dramatic Decline in Bird Numbers in North America

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's new study documents widespread decline in bird numbers.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s new study documents widespread decline in bird numbers.

“If you were alive in 1970, more than one in four birds have disappeared in your lifetime.”  So begins a Cornell Chronicle article about a new study by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  That loss represents about three billion birds, across the US and Canada and across all biomes. Researchers examined decades of data on 529 species and found massive declines (53% loss) in the numbers of grasslands birds as well as big drops (37%) in shorebirds. As Ken Rosenberg, lead author of the study said, “It’s a strong signal that our human-altered landscapes are losing their ability to support birdlife. And that is an indicator of a coming collapse of the overall environment.”

Continue reading

Connecting the Dots: From Photographing Birds to Saving Species

Story and Photography by Jim Shane (unless otherwise noted)

As a nature photographer, I spend a large percentage of my time photographing birds, and raptors are at the top of my list of favorite targets. Fortunately, The Peregrine Fund is headquartered close to my home so I attended a live flight show. In a blatant attempt to establish some form of communication, I offered images to the bird handlers, which blossomed into a role as volunteer photographer and adviser. Now I get opportunities and requests for help gathering images for use in educational programs. The American Kestrel photo below is one example.

Once eggs hatch the feeding frenzy intensifies. Scientists at the American Kestrel Partnership learn from looking at images of the prey being delivered to the chicks by the parent birds. © Jim Shane

Continue reading