A new report has shown global conservation efforts have a significant effect on reducing bird extinction. It showed extinction rates in birds officially designated as “Critically Endangered” were reduced by 40% in the last three decades. Read New Study: Conservation Action has Reduced Bird Extinction Rates by 40% which can be found at www.birdlife.org. It shows, at a time when the decline in birds has accelerated, we know what to do. Hawks, eagles, cranes, ducks, condors – many of these birds are doing better, even thriving at a time when we are seeing the collapse of many others.

How has this happened? We identify a bird in trouble, we do the science to uncover what’s causing the problem and we develop a conservation plan that keeps them from blinking out of existence. This should give us hope. We can actually do something to reverse the terrible trends we so often see.

But don’t relax. Unfortunately, this type of intervention is very expensive. In some cases, it requires the captive breeding and re-introduction of birds into their original habitat. In other words – crisis intervention. We react too late and it doesn’t work 100% of the time. So, in spite of this good news, we still have too many birds moving toward that Critically Endangered category, and it is sobering to think we may not save them all. The challenge? Figure out how we can prevent birds from ending up on the “Critically Endangered” list in the first place.

It’s good to know the fire department is there to rescue you when your house catches fire. But, what most of us try to do is prevent the fire in the first place. We need to take the same approach to protecting birds. The good news is we actually know a lot about what “prevention” entails. The biggest things are probably not that different from what we need to do to protect the forest, water and fields for other animals, including us humans – ensure that good habitat is available.

Common sense steps like protecting water and soil from over use and the introduction of harmful chemicals, ensuring that native plants and trees are available for food and nesting, support sustainable hunting, farming and manufacturing regulations that protect us and birds. These are steps we can do in our own communities.

I’m convinced that if we know how to snatch birds back from extinction, then with a little more focus and attention from each of us, we can do our part at preventing problems at the local level.

James Reddoch, of Albany Township and Boston, leads birding events for the Mahoosuc Land Trust. Visit Mahoosuc Land Trust at 162 North Road, Bethel, ME. To learn about upcoming events or to contact James, send your emails to [email protected]

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