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Breaking News - More Than One in Four Birds Lost Since 1970

As an amateur and not-very-good birder, I regularly use the Merlin App to ID the birds I see. Merlin is a project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

The Merlin App is wonderful and birds are, well, pretty nifty!

Anyway, the Executive Director of the Lab, John W. Fitzpatrick, sent this letter and asked me to share it. If ever there was an Eastern Woodlands issue, this is certainly one at the top of the list!

Please pass this on.


Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Dear Marc,

I wanted you to be among the first to know that a new study—led by Cornell Lab of Ornithology scientists—has found that the breeding population of birds in the U.S. and Canada has dropped nearly 30% since 1970.

The study, published in the journal Science today by Cornell Lab scientists Ken Rosenberg, Adriaan Dokter, and Laura Helft, and collaborators at six other institutions—found that nearly 3 billion birds have vanished in our lifetime. These staggering losses have occurred across all habitats, from grasslands to the Arctic, shorelines to forests—and have taken a massive toll on even common species, such as sparrows, warblers, blackbirds.

If you have ever contributed citizen-science data or know someone who has, consider this: the findings emerged from new techniques to detect the volume of migratory birds aloft using weather radar, as well as nearly 50 years of bird-monitoring data, including citizen-science records. They show what we might not have perceived otherwise—a rapid loss of more than a quarter of our nations’ bird populations.

This new knowledge is a wake-up call—a signal that our natural systems are losing the ability to support the richness and diversity of life that they once did just decades ago. Because you are part of our choir of people who love birds and nature, we need you more than ever to join us in lifting collective voices and influencing change.

Birds are resilient when we give them a chance—the data show that too. Waterfowl are up by 56%, and raptors have increased by 200% thanks to focused conservation funding and protections.

I urge you to share today’s news with your friends and communities. Consider how you can influence change—whether social, civic, or personal—to raise awareness and help bring birds back.

To read more about the findings and how you can help, please visit



John W. Fitzpatrick
Executive Director
Cornell Lab of Ornithology


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