Percent change in population among 19 species of North American long-distance migrating shorebirds, 1975-2016 Graphic: The New York Times / Environment and Climate Change Canada

By John W. Fitzpatrick and Nathan R. Senner
27 April 2018

(The New York Times) – A worldwide catastrophe is underway among an extraordinary group of birds — the marathon migrants we know as shorebirds. Numbers of some species are falling so quickly that many biologists fear an imminent planet-wide wave of extinctions.

These declines represent the No. 1 conservation crisis facing birds in the world today. Climate change, coastal development, the destruction of wetlands and hunting are all culprits. And because these birds depend for their survival, as we do, on the shorelines of oceans, estuaries, rivers, lakes, lagoons, and marshes, their declines point to a systemic crisis that demands our attention, for our own good.

No doubt you’ve seen some of these birds while on vacation at the beach, skittering back and forth along the cusp of waves as they peck with their long beaks for tiny sand flies or the eggs of horseshoe crabs. They can seem comic in their frenetic exertions, tiny Charlie Chaplins in bird suits.

But these birds are remarkable in ways that defy not only belief but scientific understanding: They are, by far, the planet’s most extraordinary global travelers. Worldwide, about 70 shorebird species travel from the top of the world to its very bottom and back each year. The smallest weigh barely an ounce. Each species has its own story, but in every case these annual migrations are among nature’s most epic dramas. […]

Populations of all three of these shorebirds are crashing. Since 1974, pectoral sandpipers have declined by more than 50 percent, and Hudsonian godwits have declined by more than 70 percent. The bar-tailed godwit may have lost half its global population within just the past few decades. […]

Population declines along the East-Asian Australasian Flyway have been so catastrophic that at least a few shorebird extinctions seem inevitable. The global population of Nordmann’s Greenshank is down to the last 1,000 individuals. Likewise, the spoon-billed sandpiper has the unfortunate distinction of being one of the world’s rarest birds — a tiny plush-toy of a shorebird with a bill shaped like a miniature dinner spoon that is now down to a couple hundred breeding pairs. This global population could be wiped out by a single typhoon. [more]

Shorebirds, the World’s Greatest Travelers, Face Extinction

1 comments :

  1. robert bonacci said...

    Yep... #1decadeleft  

 

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