Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Help Gulf Migratory Birds in Your Yard

Powerless to stop the oiling of migratory bird habitat along the Gulf of Mexico, homeowners can provide havens for migrants in their own yards.

Beyond the immediate shock of seeing hundreds of oil-soaked seabirds, one of biggest concerns about the BP spill—for biologists, conservationists and birders alike—is the ongoing destruction of critical stopover sites for migratory shorebirds and songbirds.

Particularly for birds that migrate across the Gulf of Mexico—a journey that can take 18 hours or more—the barrier islands and wetlands along the U.S. Gulf Coast provide critical areas for resting and refueling before continuing the journey north to summer breeding grounds or south to winter habitat in Latin America.

Over the past several decades, scientists have detected declines in the populations of many Neotropical migrants. Initially, the major culprits were thought to be destruction of tropical forests in the birds’ wintering grounds, combined with forest fragmentation in their summer habitat.

Now researchers realize that the loss of stopover habitat may be at least as important, if not more so. Migratory birds spend as much as half the year traveling between their summer and winter ranges. Read the entire article for ideas.

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