For the Birds

You may already have heard about this staggering conclusion of a recent study — over the last half century, some 25 percent of birds in North America have vanished. Those hardest hit have been birds that depend on grasslands — they’ve suffered a 50-percent decline during this time, primarily due to the loss of their habitat to development or conversion to farmland.

At Scenic Hudson, we not only protect grasslands at places like Poets’ Walk Park, Harrier Hill Park and Scenic Hudson’s Long View Park, but we also manage them to maximize their benefits to birds and other wildlife. This includes periodic mowing to prevent the growth of trees and shrubs, and removing invasive species that crowd out native plants that birds depend on for food and shelter.

There is good news in this study — bald eagles, peregrine falcons and ducks have actually increased in numbers, thanks to conservation efforts (including international treaties) to halt their demise. But what can be done to reverse the alarming downturn in songbirds and other species?

“One of our key messages is that it’s time for the 40 to 50 million of birdwatchers in the U.S. alone to raise our voices,” says Cornell University conservation scientist Dr. Ken Rosenberg, who led the international team behind the study. “We need to see public outcry lead to a second wave of conservation.”