Did you know that roughly 60% of the land area in the U.S. is privately owned? That amounts to a lot of land, about 1.43 billion acres. These lands not only provide the food, fiber, energy and timber that make our nation hum, but harbor some of the most important habitat for birds.
Released yesterday, the State of the Birds 2013 report focuses on these private lands and their importance for successful stewardship of birds and their habitats in the U.S. It’s a landmark report, the first of its kind to offer a comprehensive look at bird distributions and conservation on private lands. The report is a collaborative effort of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, including Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service and many of the nation’s top conservation organizations. According to the report:
– More than 75% of the breeding and wintering distributions of waterfowl, such as Blue-winged Teal and Wood Duck, occur on private wetlands.
– Twenty-nine breeding grassland bird species have 82% of their distribution on private lands.
– Aridlands (deserts, sagebrush and chaparral) are about 40% privately owned, including much of the nation’s grazing and ranchlands; 36% of Greater Sage-Grouse distribution and 26% of Gunnison Sage-Grouse distribution are on these private aridlands.
– About 310 forest-breeding bird species are highly dependent on private lands that maintain forest cover and preserve the integrity of forest ecosystems.
In addition, the report offers numerous examples where working lands support the habitat needs of birds. It celebrates the many contributions landowners make to conservation, including the farmers who participate in RMBO’s cooperative Mountain Plover Nest Conservation Program.
With more than 100 American bird species having more than 50% of their distributions on private lands, engaging landowners is essential for bird and habitat conservation. At RMBO, we’ll continue to develop cooperative, voluntary partnerships with landowners across the Rockies, Great Plains and Mexico that lead to win-win solutions for people and wildlife.
Take a moment to read the State of the Birds 2013. And remember that you, too, can make a difference for bird conservation. From your backyard to your local park, a healthy home for birds is a healthy home for all of us.