ALBUQUERQUE, NM – A new report paints a grim picture for wild birds. According to the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, 70 species have lost more than half of their breeding populations in the past 50 years – and are set to lose another half in the next 50 years.
In the Albuquerque metro, some have noticed an absence of birds which are usually found at this time of year. Why is this happening then?
Laura McCann is a local bird specialist and environmental education program manager for Valencia’s Soil and Water Conservation District.
“I wouldn’t go off on a limb — to use a bird metaphor — and I wouldn’t say specific species are absolutely increasing or decreasing,” McCann said.
However, McCann said persistent drought conditions in New Mexico have pushed some species to new homes with more water. Growing towns and cities also discourage wildlife.
“The eastern meadowlark, I noticed, I haven’t seen that many lately like, say, the last 10 years,” McCann said. “They like to feed in the ground, they like to nest on the ground, hidden in the grass. So they’re going to want open land, they’re not going to want a neighborhood.
The same goes for other birds that like open spaces.
“Now you’re looking at habitat that’s not as preferable for the western meadowlark,” McCann said. “So we still have a lot of vast open grasslands in New Mexico. If you’re going to look for them, that’s where you’ll want to look for them.
Concern for birds has also reached the federal level. Senator Martin Heinrich recently shared the 2022 State of the Birds Report. He mentioned the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, and added that conservation efforts and investments could help them bounce back.