Feathered Friend Woes


Birdwatching, with 65 million participants, is one of the country’s most popular hobbies. Bird watchers spend more than $5 billion a year on their hobby, according to a 1994 study commissioned by the FWS.

Yet, here are fewer and fewer of those birds to be watched, and some species are disappearing at the rate of 4 percent a year.

In recent years, populations of many songbirds have declined sharply. Among the species at risk are Kirtland’s warbler, the black-capped vireo, the cerulean warbler and the mountain plover.

The ruby-throated hummingbird, which weighs less than an ounce, flies non-stop over the Gulf of Mexico from wintering grounds in Latin America to its first stop in the southern United States.

But at the end of such remarkable journeys, migrating birds are finding an unsavory welcome.

Habitat loss, including subdividing of forests, is a major cause of the decline in many migratory bird species, biologists say, but pesticides and other poisons take their toll.

During the winter, up to 20,000 Swainson’s hawks died because of insecticide poisoning while wintering in Argentina, the FWS reported.

, DataTimes

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Rich Landers

Rich Landers

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