Well, yesterday started the media onslaught of the State of the Birds Report. I feel like I'm supposed to be super excited about this big report,but I find myself cautiously optimistic. I think part of it is that every few years, you see a bunch of high profile birders and organizations get together, create a group like "Conservation Through Birding" and a couple of years later it disappears. Usually because there's so much going on, everyone is so spread out, there's not enough money, and another project comes up. So when I see a list of government and well know conservation and academic institutions comes together to release a report about bird population declines, I wonder, "How is that going to work? How will all those organizations play together?"
Here's a list of the organizations:
International Bird Conservation in the US American Bird Conservancy Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies National Audubon Society Cornell Lab of Ornithology Klamath Bird Observatory The Nature Conservancy US Fish and Wildlife US Geological Survey Partners in Flight Partnership for Shorebird Conservation North American Waterfowl Management Plan Waterbird Conservation
That's a bunch of big groups, with their own projects (for the benefit of birds) but big groups can be unwieldy and hard to work with. Will this work?
Basically, birds in the US are in trouble. It's nothing new to anyone interested in birds and you can see an overview of the bird report here. I watched the fancy video, skimmed the report, noted the organizations involved (noticed Ducks Unlimited was not involved and wondered if they declined or is this a case of birders not inviting them and wanting to create their own group away from hunting--which I think is a mistake, the birder and the hunter should be friends and working together will do far more than working apart).
I went through the material asking myself, what is the point of the State of the Birds address--just trying to get the average person's attention?
But then I found the What You Can Do section.
Great Backyard Bird Count, Avian Knowledge Network, eBird, the Landbird Monitoring Network, HawkCount, Project Feederwatch, just to name a few. There are also 6 million note cards housed in a US Geological Survey cabinet with migratory records dating back to the 19th century. Using an online entry form, volunteers (you) can turn scanned cards into database entries, bringing the invaluable data into the 21st century. Anyone care to enter in two records a day or maybe do five a week?
Those are all great projects and relatively easy things that the average person can do. These are a bunch of big organizations with big projects combining their resources. Now this is pretty exciting and I'm curious to see where it goes. This is a way that anyone, any group could help with research and maybe give a clear handle on how to help some of these bird populations.
I also really like that I got press releases out the ying yang from many of the groups involved. I think it's encouraging that they are trying to harness the power of the internet to get people involved with birds they may never had heard about and get the message out.
Questions are still in my head: Can these groups really work together in the long term? Can we keep the momentum going?
We don't know until we try.
So pick a project or two and see if you can jump in and help improve the State of the Birds.