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October 2022

The Audubon Bird Research Email Newsletter provides you with monthly updates outlining the work we are doing as part of the scientific research initiative at the Audubon Society of Rhode Island. You will also receive emails when we are in need of volunteers for projects. Suggestions and questions regarding the newsletter can be sent to Dr. Charles Clarkson, Audubon Director of Avian Research,

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Field Research Update

The end is in sight! On November 1, 2022, the year of baseline data collection across our 14 publicly accessible refuges will come to an end. With the complete dataset in hand, analysis will begin in the hopes that our understanding of how birds utilize our refuges at some point during the year will guide effective conservation across our 10,000 acres and beyond. The capacity of our protected habitats to supply breeding, wintering and migratory habitat will be assessed and a comprehensive “State of Our Birds” report will outline the steps necessary to further manage our wildlife resources. Combined with a newly-adopted list of “Responsibility Birds”, the Audubon Society of Rhode Island will have a clear picture of what we have accomplished by protecting land, and what we still need to do to assist our beleaguered bird populations.

The “State of Our Birds” report will be released at the beginning of the new year and will serve as a jumping off point for discussions with researchers in Rhode Island and throughout New England on the creation of a comprehensive region-wide conservation plan that seeks to proactively manage our forests, grasslands and coasts for birds. On January 28, 2023, the Audubon Society of Rhode Island will host the first annual “Birds Across New England: The Audubon Regional Conservation Symposium” at our Nature Center in Bristol. This one-day event will bring together researchers from every corner of New England to present their research on bird conservation to the general public. All will be invited to attend, but space will be limited. Look for additional details on the event along with registration instructions in the upcoming Audubon Report.

State of the Birds

This edition of the Avian Research Newsletter will be devoted to the recently released “State of the Birds” report. This annual report, released by the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, outlines the trends in bird populations over the past 50-years, identifies the largest drivers of decline, celebrates successful conservation projects and makes recommendations on the future work needed to restore our bird populations.

Although the report is easy to understand and is created with a general audience in mind, it is over 30-pages in length. Therefore, a synopsis here will aid in maximizing the number of people exposed to its content, which will hopefully translate to even more action on the part of the birding community. The report subdivides its findings into bird guilds, defined as groups of species that share similar resource use and habitat preference.

The report also identifies 70 “Tipping Point” species, which are birds that have lost two-thirds of their population during the past 50-years and are projected to lose another 50% over the next 50-years. For these species, dedicated conservation needs to happen swiftly to halt further decline.

Signs of Hope

The news for most birds in the report is bleak, cause for concern and certainly should not be minimized. The conservation needs are real, swift action is necessary and time for successful management is limited. Still, the report does highlight some areas where conservation has succeeded, such as with the waterbird guild and the successful protection of wetland habitats. The report also lists strategies for bird conservation necessary to reverse declining trends. These strategies include applying new science and technologies to the issues at hand, establishing partnerships between private landowners, government entities and indigenous communities and paying more attention to the full annual cycle needs of birds.

The report also highlights the oft-overlooked fact that the conservation of certain bird populations and their requisite habitats also leads to the conservation of other associated species. Effective conservation plans can lead to gains in multiple species and benefit the overall biodiversity of our planet.

Conservation plans can also serve to help communities across our nation. Involving Black, Latino and Indigenous communities in our work can help to advance environmental justice, right historical wrongs and provide assistance to our inner-city communities.

Here’s hoping that next year’s report is more optimistic for our bird populations. Until then, the birds need our help. Let’s get to work.

Read more about the “State of the Birds” report: click here for coverage by the Providence Journal.

The information for this newsletter was gleaned from the “State of the Birds” report:
North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2022. The State of the Birds. United States of America.

Blog: Bird Research at Audubon

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