Get out your binoculars! Even though the Great Backyard Bird Count (Feb. 17-20) is over, any time is a good time to celebrate birds and showcase threatened bird species that the Student Conservation Association is working to protect this year.
Hawaiian goose (nēnē)
Nene, the state bird of Hawaii, is a medium-sized bird who mates for life. Habitat loss, predators, and hunting caused their numbers to dip to about 30 by 1952. Today, more than 2,800 individuals exist. The SCA is one organization helping to protect nēnē, but it is not for the faint of heart! This work requires hiking over rugged volcanic terrain at high elevations in harsh weather conditions to monitor for nesting activity and help with predator control.
The red-cockaded woodpecker makes its home in living trees, whereas all other woodpeckers bore out cavities in dead ones. Once abundant in the southeast, at this time there are only around 10,000 birds as a result of habitat destruction. At Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina, the SCA assists with monitoring vulnerable chicks, conducting behavioral observations, and recording bird and tree locations.
Great Lakes piping plovers
The piping plover is an endangered shorebird, with the Great Lakes being one location in the United States where a small population of 75 and 80 nesting pairs exists. Habitat loss and predators are the main causes of their decline. SCA interns walk up to 5 miles to monitor nesting sites in the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area located in Michigan, educate the public, and habitat improvement projects.
These three threatened bird species have a brighter future as result of protection efforts by organizations like the SCA.
To celebrate the beautiful birds in your backyard, be sure to join in on the bird count! This annual birding event is a special way for birders to enjoy their passion while providing scientists valuable data. If you want to do even more, donate now to help us protect these and other endangered species.
Sources: FWS.gov and NPS.gov