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State of the Birds

Birds are important indicators of the overall health of our environment. Like the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, they send an urgent warning about threats to our water, air, natural resources, climate and more.

Audubon’s State of the Birds reports provide a picture of how the continental U.S.’ birds – both common and rare – are faring. They bring together population data from our Christmas Bird Count – the longest running wildlife census in the world, the U.S. Geological Survey’s Breeding Bird Survey and other wildlife and habitat research to highlight population declines and explore the threats behind them. A new series of State of the Birds analyses is being launched with June 2007’s Common Birds in Decline. Other’s will add to the picture periodically. Both new and archived reports are provided below to offer an ongoing picture of the State of the Birds.

Birds and Climate Change – Winter 2009

Nearly 60% of the 305 species found in North America in winter are on the move, shifting their ranges northward by an average of 35 miles based on the past 40 years of citizen-science Christmas Bird Count data. Only grassland species were an exception, however, this is far from good news, and instead reflects the grim reality of severely-depleted grassland habitat and suggests that these species now face a double threat from the combined stresses of habitat loss and climate adaptation. All of these findings provide new and powerful evidence that global warming is having a impact on birds, their habitat, and other wildlife. Learn more.

Common Birds in Decline – Summer 2007

Audubon’s unprecedented analyses of forty years of bird population data from Christmas Bird Count and Breeding Bird Survey reveals alarming declines for many of our most common and beloved birds. Since 1967 the average population for the common birds in steepest decline has fallen 68 percent, from 17.6 million to 5.35 million. Some species have nose-dived as much as 80 percent and all 20 birds included in the Common Birds in Decline report have lost at least 50 percent of their population - in just four decades.

Habitats and Birds – 2004

This report sums up the status of 654 bird species native to the continental United States according to the country's four major types of natural habitat—grass, shrubs, trees, and water. Urban, which is increasing more rapidly than any other type, is also included; the ability of birds to adapt to it has become a major factor for their survival.

WatchList 2007

More than 800 bird species occur within the United States. With limited time and resources available to protect them, it is vital to know which species are at greatest risk. It is especially important to identify at-risk species before their populations become so small that protecting them from extinction is costly, in every sense of the word. Audubon's WatchList 2007 highlights the bird species that have the greatest conservation needs.