Nature Conservation and Birdwatchers

"Hey, listen up birdwatchers. I'm Alfie Bird. If you haven't heard already, North American bird populations have dropped 29% over the past 50 years.
"Sure, to you that might just be the loss of some birds, but to me it's the loss of billions of relatives: aunts, uncles, first cousins twice removed, second cousins thrice removed, and so on.
"You might ask, 'What happened to all those birds?' It's a good question. Below are the answers and what you (hint! hint! hint!) can do about it." 
"Of course, you can only do so much, so choose the actions that will help the most birds." 
Tops Threats to Birds (U.S. only. Ordered by Median Estimate to Bird Mortality Annually. As of 2017.)
Causes of Bird Mortality1
Median Current Annual Estimate
How You Can Help2
Habitat Loss
Potentially largest individual threat to birds
1. Donate for habitat conservation (Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, etc.)
2. Influence conservation legislation (letter-writing campaigns, fully fund Land and Water Conservation Fund every year [esp. considering all the new oil extraction], Recovering America's Wildlife Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act/Convention, etc.--and be sure you know who you're voting for.)
3. Participate in habitat restoration and enhancement
4. Recognize heroes who help habitat
5. Symbolic fences using children's signs to protect sensitive habitats   
Outdoor Cats
2.4 billion
1. Keep cats indoors and speak out against outdoor cats
2. Festival registrations that award gold stars to attendees who keep their cats indoors
3. Speak out against feral cat colonies
Collisions - Building Glass
 600 million
1. Protective treatment of window for private and public buildings
2. Support conservation legislation (Bird-Safe Windows Act, etc.)
Collisions - Vehicles
 200 million
1. Ease off the gas pedal
2. Honor the slowest driving tour guides
Poison and Toxics
70 million
1. Support conservation legislation and ask political candidates to work on neonicotinoids, 2,4-D, and glyphosate, as well as the creation of a uniform plastics recycling system, and then vote for politicians who act.
2. Personal use choices
Lead Poisoning
 70 million
21 million
1. Support legislation banning lead ammunition
(News: Interior Secretary lifts lead ban in 2017)
2. . Use non-lead ammunition
Industry Deaths - Collisions (Electrical Lines, Communication Towers, Wind Turbines); Electrocutions; Mining Claim markers; Gas Platforms; Oil and Wastewater Pits; etc.
 41 million
1. Support conservation legislation
(News: Republican Liz Cheney introduces Bird-Killer Amendment in 2017)


1 Adapted from the 2017 United States Fish and Wildlife Service's Threats to Birds webpage (drawing from scientific studies including Trail 2006; Longcore et al. 2012; Loss et al. 2013a, 2013b; Loss et al. 2014a, 2014b, and 2014c.), as well as resources from the American Bird Conservancy (2013).
2Referenced Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Living Bird magazine (Autumn 2019) essay by John Fitzpatrick, which includes an excellent summary of actions to support birds.
Finally, birders can help birds by minimizing the negative impacts from birdwatching activities, which can occasionally cause breeding birds to abandon nests or long-distance migrants to burn through precious energy reserves. Birders who become aware of even the minor impacts from birdwatching activities are likely to show a heightened concern for birds that can lead to action to address habitat loss and other major sources of human-caused bird mortality. Learn how to lower your impact while birding by browsing our compilation of ethical birding guidelines.