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State of the Birds 2013 Report Released


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A new report highlights the importance of bird habitat conservation on private lands which comprises 60 percent of the total U.S. land area. (Credit: State of the Birds)

A new report highlights the importance of bird habitat conservation on private lands which comprises 60 percent of the total U.S. land area. (Credit: State of the Birds)

Last week, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced the release of The State of the Birds 2013: Report on Private Lands, United States of America. This is the fourth State of the Birds report, and it focuses on the importance of the 60 percent of U.S. land area that is privately held. Using several spatial programs and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s citizen-science program e-bird, 1.5 million bird checklists from more than 220,000 unique locations were used to determine distributions of 219 breeding and 65 wintering bird species. In the report, particular attention is paid to conservation programs that are supported by the farm bill. Major findings included:

  • Over half of the home range of more than 100 American bird species is on private lands;
  • Privately owned arid lands host 40 percent of arid land bird distributions during breeding season;
  • 83 percent of coastal habitats are privately owned and host 25 percent of North American bird species at some point during the year;
  • 82 percent of the distribution of 29 grassland bird species is on privately owned grasslands;
  • Ricelands support 45percent of the North American wintering duck population.

The report also highlights the success of some farm bill conservation programs. For example, lands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program in the prairie pothole region have yielded a net increase of 2 million waterfowl per year in Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Also noteworthy is the Wetlands Reserve Program, which has restored 2.6 million acres of private wetland habitat (three fourths of all remaining wetlands are on private lands).

Specific programs are also highlighted as conservation success stories:

  • Rice Farm Habitat for Waterbirds (for wetlands conservation)
  • Farmers Make Room for Mountain Plovers (grassland conservation)
  • Sage Grouse Initiative (arid lands)
  • Bird Habitat on Timberlands (forests)
  • Conservation Reserve Program (for game bird conservation)

 

Sources: State of the Birds 2013; E & E news Daily (July 5, 2013).



View the full article from The Wildlife Society's Wildlife Policy News
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