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Montana bird lovers react to new study showing loss of 3 billion birds

Posted at 10:49 PM, Sep 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-26 16:43:46-04

Three billion birds, no longer flying in the sky.

A new study, published last week in Science shows we’ve lost 29% of birds in North America since 1970.

Montana Audubon says the data doesn’t shock them.

They also say there is still hope for passionate birdwatchers everywhere.

“Whether it’s hunting, fishing, getting that big fish, for me, it’s getting that rare bird,” said Larry Berrin, the executive director of Montana Audubon. “That’s what I like to get on my hook.”

He told MTN News, the study confirms what bird experts have said for years.

“It’s not an overstatement to say, what affects birds will eventually affect us all,” said Berrin.

According to the study, in grassland areas like eastern Montana, scientists charted the greatest loss: more than 700 million birds, or 53%.

Conservationists say factors like habitat loss and pesticide use are to blame.

“Of course, that western meadowlark fits in that greater category of grassland birds,” said Amy Seaman, the Montana Audubon director of policy and science.

“Those birds are heavily affected, same with the swallows and the sparrows.”

The study says western forests also saw a decline in bird populations.

“It’s a bit frustrating, but I think it can also help us focus on where we need to go next,” said Seaman.

Both Seaman and Berrin said they’ve heard from birdwatchers who have noticed less birds across the state, but conservation can make a difference for bird populations.

“When we focus on those species in decline, we really can help recover them,” said Seaman.

On October 5th, Montana Audubon is hosting “Flock Together for Conservation” at Giant Springs State Park in Great Falls. Click here for details.