Birds Outperform Baseball – Home Field Advantage Threatened
BOSTON, Mass. - It's the Red Sox versus the Red-necked Grebe: The migratory bird helped contribute more than $40 billion in revenue to the economy in bird-watching trips and related equipment last year, about five times the year's total revenue for major league baseball.
However, a new report says conserving at least half of Canada's boreal forest is necessary to combat threats to the migratory songbirds flying over the Bay State every spring.
"Hard to think that birds are bigger business than baseball," said Jeff Wells, science and policy director for the Boreal Songbird Initiative. "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 makes the case that boreal birds add more than $100 billion to the economies of the United States and Canada.
At the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Mike Burger oversees conservation efforts involving migratory songbirds. He is also conservation and science director for Audubon New York.
"Massachusetts sees thrushes and warblers and tanagers and other species that are among the forest birds that we enjoy so much," said Burger.
Wells explained that current science indicates about half of the boreal forest - 85 percent of which is in Canada - 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," he said.
The report, entitled Boreal Birds Need Half: Maintaining North America's Bird Nursery and Why it Matters, was released jointly by the Boreal Songbird Initiative and Ducks Unlimited.