By Nika Knight
North America has lost more than 1.5 billion birds over the past 40 years, says the most comprehensive survey of landbird populations in Canada and the U.S. to date, and 86 species are threatened with total extinction—all thanks to human-caused habitat destruction and climate change.
Golden-winged warblers are one of the North American species most at risk for complete extinction. Caleb Putnam / Flickr
"Among those 86 species, 22 have already lost at least half of their population since 1970 and are projected to lose another 50 percent of their numbers within the next 40 years," reported the Canadian Press. "For at least six species, this 'half-life' window is fewer than 20 years."
"The information on urgency is quite alarming," study co-author Judith Kennedy of Environment Canada said to the Canadian Press. "We're really getting down to the dregs of some of these populations."
"I don't want my grandchild to go out in the forest and not hear the songbirds in the spring and that seems to be where we're headed right now," Andrew Couturier, senior analyst at Bird Studies Canada and a co-author of the report, told the Globe and Mail.
The California condor, Gunnison sage grouse, ivory-billed woodpecker and Bachman's warbler are a few of the more well-known species on Partners in Flight's "Red Watch List," meaning they are the most at risk of extinction.
Those facing the most dramatic population declines are grassland birds, sagebrush and desert scrub species "and forest species dependent on specialized structural features or natural disturbance," the report says.
Indeed, another recent study just confirmed that the habitat of endangered sage grouses in 11 western U.S. states is being torn up because of "rampant" oil, gas and gold mining, precipitating the devastating loss of most of their chicks, the Washington Post reported Thursday.
The Globe and Mail noted:
"Even relatively abundant birds are dwindling in number, the report says. Chimney swifts, field sparrows and short-eared owls are among the common species that have lost more than half of their populations since 1970 and are expected to lose half of their current level in 40 years or less."
"Birds are often a bellwether of broader ecological health," Kennedy said to the Globe and Mail. Kennedy "noted that sickly birds were an early warning sign of the environmental damage caused by the pesticide DDT a generation ago."
"In some ways, the status of these birds could indicate the status of our own health," Kennedy warned.
This article was reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
People across New England witnessed a dramatic celestial event Sunday night.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By David Reichmuth
Over the last month, I've seen a number of opinion articles attacking electric vehicles (EVs). Sadly, this comes as no surprise: now that the Biden administration is introducing federal policies to accelerate the roll out of electric vehicles, we were bound to see a reaction from those that oppose reducing climate changing emissions and petroleum use.
The majority of EVs sold in 2020 were models with a starting price (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) under $40,000 and only a fifth of models had a starting price over $60,000.
On Friday, China set out an economic blueprint for the next five years, which was expected to substantiate the goal set out last fall by President Xi Jinping for the country to reach net-zero emissions before 2060 and hit peak emissions by 2030.
The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.
Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day at Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia with Richard Peter. Alexa Fernando<p>This partnership also comes at a time when access to outdoor recreation is more important to Canadian citizens than ever. <a href="https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200527/dq200527b-eng.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies from the spring of 2020</a> indicate that Canadian's <a href="https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/moneytalk-mental-health-during-covid-19-1.1567633" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mental health has worsened</a> since the onset of social distancing protocols due to COVID-19. </p><p>The <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities-during-covid19/art-20489385" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayo Clinic</a> lists hiking, biking, and skiing as safe activities during COVID-19. Their website explains, "When you're outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you're less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected."</p><p>TCT leadership took this into consideration when embarking on the accessibility project. McMahon explains that there has never been a more important time to bring accessibility to the great outdoors: "Canadians have told us that during these difficult times, they value access to natural spaces to stay active, take care of their mental health, and socially connect with others while respecting physical distancing and public health directives. This partnership is incredibly important especially now as trails have become a lifeline for Canadians."</p><p>Together, these organizations are paving the way for better physical and mental health among all Canadians. To learn more about the TCT's mission and initiatives, check out their <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/stories/" target="_blank">trail stories</a> and <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/TCT_2020-Donor-Impact-Report_EN_8.5x14-web.pdf" target="_blank">2020 Impact Report</a>.</p>