For over 100 years, industrial activities inflicting harm to various bird species were regulated by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. In recent months, President Donald Trump’s administration has taken steps to overrule this legislation so that companies would no longer be held liable for unintentionally harming birds — which could potentially have harmful implications for the environment.
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.
“Spending time in the field is an excellent way to develop research questions,” Bonter said. “By watching and observing at Shoals, it’s impossible to not ask questions. All of my students have engaged in original research.”
By GABRIELLA ALEXANDROU
Today, live-streaming webcams are giving people all around the world the unprecedented chance to watch California Condors nest and raise their young in real time, thanks to work by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. These cams are located in Southern California close to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge and along the central California coast at the Ventana Wildlife’s Condor Sanctuary. The thought to install the webcams was originally conceived by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2010 as a way to monitor the health of California Condors. Though the population has rebounded from only 12 specimens to more than 400, the birds remain one of the most endangered species in the world, according to Charles Eldermire, bird cams project leader. “They’re the largest bird in North America and so it’s kind of crazy that that was something that almost slipped away from us 30 years ago when there were only a few left in the wild,” Eldermire said.