Ornithologists, Birdwatchers Uncover Staggering Magnitude of Bird Population Decline

Correction appended. 

Cornell Lab of Ornithology conservation scientist Dr. Ken Rosenberg led an international team of 12 scientists in an analysis of decades of data on bird population — and the conclusion is disturbing. In the last 50 years, one in four birds in North America has disappeared. Pesticide use and loss of habitat to farmland are some of the most significant contributors to the decline in bird populations, according to Rosenberg. Although scientists have known for a long time that certain bird species were threatened by human activities, this study reveals that these issues apply to birds of nearly all species. “Seeing this net loss of three billion birds was shocking,” Rosenberg said.

Cornell Team Looks at Automotive Dangers Faced by Local Amphibians

On the night of the first warm spring rain, local salamanders emerge from the thawed forest ground to migrate. Because of passing cars, however, many of them are killed before reaching their destination. Cornell students Catherine Li ’18, Caroline Wollman ’18 and Abigail Shilvock ’17 are working with Todd Bittner, director of natural areas for Cornell Plantations, to protect salamanders and other amphibians from human intrusions in the Plantations and its related reserves. The three students are members of Biology Service Leaders, a group on campus that organizes teams of students that want to relate their science education with giving back to their community, according to Li. “We were looking for a way to transform our education into service — Biology Service Leaders adds something more to that, because you have to develop your own project,” Li said.