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PNS Daily Newscast - May 25, 2018 


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The Birds Want Half of Canada’s Forest

IMAGE: The millions of songbirds flying over New York this spring en route to Canada are facing new threats to what some call "North America’s bird nursery:" Canada’s boreal forest. Map courtesy Boreal Songbird Initiative.
IMAGE: The millions of songbirds flying over New York this spring en route to Canada are facing new threats to what some call "North America’s bird nursery:" Canada’s boreal forest. Map courtesy Boreal Songbird Initiative.
May 5, 2014

ITHACA, N.Y. - The millions of songbirds flying over New York this spring en route to Canada are facing new threats to what's called "North America's bird nursery." New York bird lovers and experts are concerned about a new report from two major bird conservation groups that says conserving at least half of Canada's boreal forest is necessary to control habitat loss. Some of the most iconic species have suffered dramatic declines in recent decades.

Cornell ornithologist Mike Burger, conservation and science director, Audubon New York, says New Yorkers should be aware of why birds revisit the boreal forest every summer.

"That is, to take advantage of the long days, the abundant insects and other resources here in the northern hemisphere and to turn those resources and that opportunity into baby birds," Burger said.

The report says boreal birds play often-unappreciated roles in our ecosystem such as pollinating plants, redistributing nutrients and controlling pests. And it says they add more than $100 billion to the economies of the U.S. and Canada.

Jeff Wells, science and policy director, Boreal Songbird Initiative, says half of the boreal forest needs protecting.

"If we want to maintain that suite of birds and their abundance, we're going to need to protect at least 50 percent of that massive area from large-scale industrial development," Wells says.

Burger says every spring finds a dozen species of colorful wood warblers among the millions of birds heading north over New York state.

"Some of these actually do breed in the northern parts of New York, like in the Adirondack Mountains and in northern New England, but a lot of them are going north into Canada, into the boreal forest," Burger says, "and we need to see that that breeding habitat up there is protected if we want to continue enjoying these species."

The report says bird-related recreation is big business. Jeff Wells notes that last year bird-watching trips and equipment generated more than $40 billion in revenue - or about five times the year's total revenue for Major League Baseball.

"Hard to think that birds are bigger business than baseball," Wells acknowledges, "but on top of that, birds are important plant pollinators, pest controllers, distributors of seeds that maintain forest diversity and healthy forests, and they're some of our top environmental indicators."

The report, "Boreal Birds Need Half: Maintaining North America's Bird Nursery and Why it Matters," was prepared by Ducks Unlimited and the Boreal Songbird Initiative. More information is available at www.borealbirds.org

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY