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Side by Side: The biggest challenge for birds is cohabiting with humans

Side by Side: The biggest challenge for birds is cohabiting with humans
August 25, 2021 Natasha Blakely

North America has 3 billion fewer birds today than five decades ago, according to a recent scientific study.

That loss equates to more than a quarter of the continent’s entire bird population, and the research documenting the decline has shown that it may be worse than first realized.

Ken Rosenberg, applied conservation scientist with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and one of the authors of the study, spoke with Great Lakes Now recently about that study, how birds are faring now and what people can do to the populations recover.

“To lose 3 billion birds, there are many things at play, and the biggest challenge that birds have is finding habitat, so finding places for them to live, for them to find food, for them to nest,” he said. “It’s not to say that people are the problem, but with more and more people expanding into more and more areas and developing more and more areas, there are fewer and fewer places for birds and wildlife. So the real challenge is how to live side by side with nature.”

Despite that tall challenge, Rosenberg remains hopeful for recovery for North America’s birds.

“We have examples where once we’re able to identify and address the threat then birds can be very resilient, and they often do recover very quickly,” Rosenberg said, poining out the recovery of the bald eagle, and the conservation focus on duck and waterfowl populations.

Watch Great Lakes Now‘s interview with Rosenberg. The interview was edited for length.

And catch Great Lakes Now‘s upcoming segment on efforts to make cities more bird-friendly:


Catch more bird-related news on Great Lakes Now:

Habitat Focus: To help the birds, nonprofit organization looks to Great Lakes habitats

Citizen Science Opportunities: How can you get involved in scientific research?

Upside-Down Eagle: Bald eagles have faced a number of pollutants but are now a Great Lakes success story

Duck Stamp: Little stamp has big impacts in the Great Lakes and nationwide

Piping Plovers: Despite new challenges, the birds make their comeback


Featured image: Mallards feeding at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo Credit: James Proffitt)

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