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Birds, birds ... where are the birds?

The BBC reports that the UK Biodiversity Action Plan for 2007 has added a lot of species of critters and plants this year, including house sparrows and starlings (link).

Um, over in America we have a few BILLION of each. We'll be glad to send some back to boost your numbers. I mean, y'know, they came here from there. They might chirp with an accent now, but they still look pretty much like you're used to. I know altivo won't miss a few hundred starlings.

I'm jesting, a little. But on a more serious note, I've been meaning to mention the National Audubon Society's publication of Common Birds in Decline, a report published in their Audubon magazine in the July 2007 issue. It doesn't address starlings and house sparrows, but it does look at twenty species of birds considered to be "common," like field sparrows and horned larks, bobwhite quail and common grackles. The twenty species they've been tracking have declined in numbers over the last forty years between 54 and 82 percent. That sort of decline means they aren't so "common" after all.

Most of this decline, according to a press release that goes with the report and an editorial in the New York Times, stems from environmental changes perpetrated by humans. Of course, it's not as if we're persecuting the little guys. It's just that we're turning everything into lawns and parking lots. And if all your landscape becomes lawns and parking lots, all your birds are going to look like American robins and rock doves (a.k.a. pigeons) -- and starlings and house sparrows, at least in the U.S. Meanwhile, the birds that relied upon weedy fields and woodlot edges for their livelihood aren't going to be around as much anymore.

I haven't figured out whether the biodiversity issues in the UK are as closely related to the ones in the US. They probably are, just involving different species.

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
altivo
Aug. 28th, 2007 06:08 pm (UTC)
Heh. Actually I'm used to seeing grackles on lawns, in large flocks. But I don't know what their nesting requirements are. I think I've not seen them in urban or suburban areas so much. Our starling and grackle count is down this year too. I've been assuming the West Nile has gotten to them, but that's just a guess. The crows are recovering a bit, though.

Send the starlings and sparrows back to the British Isles? Be happy to. How should I package them? Frozen with dry ice? Freeze dried? Pickled?
songdogmi
Aug. 28th, 2007 06:17 pm (UTC)
I think they'd actually want little hopping live birds. Granted, they're a little harder to ship properly. :)
altivo
Aug. 28th, 2007 06:22 pm (UTC)
Maybe we could send eggs, then.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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