Recent research suggests that the saltmarsh sparrow has suffered a massive population decline in Connecticut over the past few years. According to the specialists from the Connecticut Audubon Society, this species might become extinct in fifty years.
More precisely, the saltmarsh sparrow might become the first extinct avian species in the United States since 1931. The organization stresses that the bird numbers dropped off due to coastal habitat loss caused by rising sea levels.
The officials further add that there are several other avian species which are endangered. Therefore, generous funds are needed to deal with this problem. Based on the reports, population declines were recorded in many birds after the loss of tidal wetlands, beaches, shrubby areas, and large grasslands.
The saltmarsh is particularly vulnerable because it weighs 14 grams (0.5 ounces). According to Milan Bull, the senior director of conservation and science at the Audubon Society, the last bird species which became extinct was the Health Hen as the last specimen died in 1931.
He said that it would be a disaster if the saltmarsh sparrow became extinct too. This bird lives along the coast between Maine and Virginia. However, it migrates farther south during the winter and disappears on the East Coast.
The experts established that this bird’s population declined by nine percent every year since 1998. They believe that this loss was caused not just by rising sea levels, but also by railways and roads because they affected the sparrow’s habitat.
An efficient strategy would be the development of landscapes which would allow the tidal marshes to migrate inland, thus preventing the sea-level rise. Conservation groups and private landowners are encouraged to join their efforts in expanding the shrubby areas within the forests to restore the habitat of the saltmarsh sparrow.
Biologists believe that a breeding program would be a vital asset facilitating the recovery of this endangered species. Other strategies include a larger land acquisition including wildlife management areas, state parks, and forests.
Fortunately, there are some bird species which are still doing well. The Connecticut researchers explain that if the habitat were expanded for the cottontail rabbit, it would increase the chances of the saltmarsh sparrow and other birds to nest in that area. However, the scientists add that the piping plover is critically endangered.
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