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From the editor

The state of our birds

Chuck Hagner

If the reports from the U.S. Committee of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative and National Audubon made you feel like returning to bed and pulling the covers over your head, I understand.

As you can read in “Birding Briefs” (page 9), one reported that over 30 percent of North America’s breeding birds are either endangered or at risk of becoming endangered without significant conservation action, while the other projected that, because of climate change, 314 bird species are likely to lose more than half of their current ranges over the next three to six decades — a huge number over a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it span of time.

Snow Bunting, the winged snowflake on our cover and the subject of John Kricher’s fascinating article on page 16, did not make Audubon’s list of climate-threatened or -endangered birds. (Thank goodness!) A mini-blizzard-like flock is likely to sweep over an agricultural field or coastal sand dune near you this winter. Don’t miss it.

Peregrine Falcon, however, isn’t so lucky. Its current North American winter range will shrink considerably, Audubon says, forcing the bird to shift to uncertain new winter quarters spread across the continent’s interior. It’s unsettling news for a bird just back from the ravages of DDT and persecution over the past century, but perhaps Mark Hedden’s article offers a glimmer of hope.

As he writes in “Peregrines in Paris” on page 22, the falcon had not nested in the City of Light for over a century, but today, thanks to courageous decisions about pesticides made decades earlier, it’s nesting successfully within view of the Eiffel Tower, much to the delight of schoolchildren in the 15th Arrondissement.

The Audubon report makes clear that responding to climate change requires making decisions just as courageous — and right now. It’s no time to pull the covers over our heads.

Chuck Hagner, editor

See the contents of our December 2014 issue.