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California Birds Stopover on Their Way to Canada

PHOTO: Short-billed Dowitcher that migrates through California is 97% breed in the boreal forest. Birders say it's important to Photo credit: Jeff Nadler
PHOTO: Short-billed Dowitcher that migrates through California is 97% breed in the boreal forest. Birders say it's important to Photo credit: Jeff Nadler
May 31, 2013

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Bird lovers love this time of year in California, as flocks of migrating birds make their way through the Golden State.

What many may not realize is that almost half of the bird species are heading to Canada's Boreal Forest to begin the next generation.

Dr. Jeff Wells, senior scientist with the Boreal Songbird Initiative, is one of the world's leading experts on boreal birds. He says the area, known as North America's Bird Nursery, is under threat from development.

"It is because there is this place to our north that is still intact that we have this great resource that we enjoy,” he says. “But it is under threat from mining, forestry, oil and gas, hydro, lots of different factors, and is being impacted by climate change."

Wells says in most of the world, habitats are fragmented and degraded. This is an area that still has hundreds of millions of acres of intact habitat and because of that, it supports a massive number of birds.

Marina Skumanich, interim executive director of the Seattle Audubon Society, says more than 50 species of birds that are regularly seen in California breed in the Boreal Forest.

"You've got some songbirds, shorebirds, etcetera,” she says. “But again, the thing that I would say is sort of a treat for us here on the West Coast is the sea birds that, you know, in a lot of other places of the country in the winter, they're not really having much to bird about."

Skumanich says it's important that Californians realize the future of these birds and the health of the Boreal Forest are connected.


Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA