700 Million Grassland Birds Lost Since 1970

  • Hi all

    The Pawnee National Grassland faces conservation peril. Our Nation’s grasslands and endemic species, as a whole, are in jeopardy (White et al 24:26) as well. The Colorado shortgrass prairie ecosystem (in part the Pawnee National Grassland) has been identified at serious risk in terms of its biodiversity, threat, protection and conservation status (Rondeau 35:35).

    A recent story by National Audubon Society shows grassland species have suffered the largest losses since 1970. This story is a result of a current report posted at Science Magazine.

    In our Colorado birding world, anecdotally, seasoned birders continue to report field observations that align with what the report is outlining:

    • "In summary, still plenty of insects until we have a freeze.  As for birds, still a few summer species, a few winter species arriving, a few pass-thru migrants but no warblers, no thrushes, no flycatchers, no vireos (Cassin's Vireo WAS reported recently), no tanagers, no grosbeaks."
    • "I found the bird activity to be rather quite for this place, but I still had a fun day of wandering about and seeing what I could find."
    • "I was hoping to find some birds along the River, between the Pueblo Reservoir dam and the Pueblo Nature Center, though it was pretty quiet.  I ended up with 73 species on the day, which is lower than usual, missed some regular birds on the River for sure."
    • "Total number of species for the make-believe "Lamar CBC" area (roughly 7 miles in all directions from the center of downtown) was 84.  That is respectable, I suppose, but my sense is that historically this same time period and the locations visited should yield well over 100 species, maybe as many as 120."

    What's being done to help?

    Last year the Great Plains Grassland Summit (Finch D et al 2019) convened in Denver to discuss challenges and opportunities; and collect and better understand information about key grassland topics. Over 200 stakeholders attended the summit. There were speakers and working sessions covering a myriad of issues. This report is a digest of the input from attendees. The priorities addressed include:

    • Working Lands
    • Native Wildlife and Biological Diversity
    • Native Plants and Pollinators
    • invasive Species
    • Wildland and Prescribed Fire
    • Energy Development
    • Weather, Water and Climate

    Each priority area addressed the following topics:

    • Prior Management Actions
    • Current Challenges and Barriers
    • Current Opportunities and Future Management
    • Research Needs
    • Bridging Science and Management

    Thanks Gary