State of the Birds:Documenting Changes in Massachusetts Birdlife
Helping beleaguered bird populations recover is a considerable undertaking. One of the greatest challenges is obtaining accurate information about what is actually happening in the natural world. The data sources on which the State of the Birds is based represent some of the best information about the current status of Massachusetts birds.
Using this information, we have developed recommendations for action along several fronts:
Using this document as a reference point, we can collaborate with all stakeholders—non-profit, state, federal, and private—to reinvigorate and refocus bird conservation efforts.
Planning and Public Policy
- Establish a comprehensive, over-arching bird management strategy to protect the diversity of birds in Massachusetts by working with federal agencies, neighboring state governments, and partner organizations.
- Work with land protection agencies to preserve critical bird habitat through new and existing land protection programs. Additionally, collaborate with other conservation organizations to shape federal and state law, regulation, and policy to better enable bird conservation.
- Cooperate with federal and state authorities as well as local and regional conservation groups to evaluate and develop existing programs geared toward the protection of birds. Using the data from the State of the Birds, assist in the evaluation of potential changes to management plans, climate change plans, and lists of protected species.
- Establish a strategy for early successional habitat with the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, other federal, state, and local entities, and academic researchers.
Conservation and Management of Habitats and Bird Species At Risk
- Prioritize the identification and preservation of early successional habitats, where declines in bird life have been most keenly felt.
- Ensure the continued effective protection of freshwater marsh and coastal habitats. These habitats, which host many imperiled species, are very vulnerable to the effects of direct human influence, invasive species, and climate change.
- Expand programs, such as Mass Audubon’s Important Bird Areas (IBA) program, and the Birds to Watch program, to help identify and prioritize habitats and encompass additional species identified as declining in this report. This web-based system can engage the public in helping with specific conservation projects (e.g., placement of kestrel boxes).
- Investigate decreases in ground-nesting bird populations, with a focus on potential links to deer browse and human commensal mammals.
- Gain a better understanding of the potential effects of climate change, including what effects (if any) a changing climate may have on flying insect populations and the birds which depend upon them.
- Identify and elaborate on the negative impacts that other sources, such as wind turbines and toxic chemicals, have on bird populations.
- Support and encourage long-term bird monitoring programs such as the USGS Breeding Bird Survey, as well as specialized programs for monitoring declining or at-risk birds.