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ENVIRONMENT REPORT – American Birds Threatened - 2002-12-05

Broadcast: December 6, 2002

This is the VOA Special English Environment Report.

A new report warns that many bird populations in the United States are in trouble. The report says about two-hundred kinds of birds are either decreasing in number, have restricted environments or are facing other threats. That represents about one-fourth of America’s bird populations.

The National Audubon Society released the report. The society is one of the oldest and largest environmental protection organizations in the world.

The report uses information gathered by scientists in the United States and other countries. This year, it includes birds of Hawaii and Puerto Rico, in addition to the birds of mainland North America.

The National Audubon Society says the report confirms some unwelcome changes. It shows that many songbird populations have decreased by as much as fifty percent or more since nineteen-seventy.

For example, it found that the cerulean warbler of the eastern United States has decreased by more than seventy percent. In the central United States, the Henslow’s sparrow population has dropped by eighty percent. The number of Hawaiian ‘Akikiki have dropped from six-thousand-eight-hundred birds thirty years ago to only one-thousand birds today.

The National Audubon Society says these decreases come at a time when bird watching in the United States is more popular than ever. One study found that about seventy-million Americans took part in bird watching last year. That is up two-hundred-fifty percent from the number reported twenty years ago. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service reports that Americans spent forty-thousand-million dollars on wildlife watching last year.

Frank Gill is an official with the National Audubon Society. He describes the new report as being like preventive medicine. He says the information is used mainly to get governments concerned about protecting bird populations before they become threatened.

Mister Gill adds that birds are a good way to test the health of Earth’s environment. He says the things that harm birds also harm people who share the same space. He says people should think about what decreasing bird populations are telling us about the environment we share.

This VOA Special English Environment Report was written by George Grow.