North America Has Lost 3 Billion Birds Since 1970 — Where Does Arizona Stand?

By Madeline Nelson
Published: Monday, September 23, 2019 - 8:41am
Updated: Monday, September 30, 2019 - 9:30am

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Sustainability coverage is supported in part by Intel

cactus wren
Chelsea Hofmeier
Desert-adapted birds like the cactus wren have declined throughout the Mojave Desert, but not as much as other birds. Decreased rainfall because of climate change appears to be the culprit.

Researchers revealed last week that North America has 3 billion fewer birds than in 1970, most of which are grassland species. But how does Arizona fit into the equation?

The cactus wren, a common songbird and Arizona's official state bird, is protected by legislation. The same can’t be said for almost 50 bird species that are on a state watch list.

Chad Wilsey, interim chief scientist for the Audubon Society, says birds are easy to observe and often are considered a "canary in a coal mine."

"If we want to have healthy drinking water, if we want to have clean air, then we want to have natural ecosystems that are maintaining these ecosystem services that is really integral to our great quality of life."

Wilsey said the Colorado River is evaporating at higher rates than normal because of climate change, another looming threat for birds.

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