Monday, August 06, 2007

Questions about Audubon's 20 birds in decline

The Toledo Blade's outdoor writer raises questions about the validity of a recent report from National Audubon Society. The report discussed 20 common species with population declines by more than 50 percent.

Steve Pollick wrote:

Sometimes when an environmental alarm sounds and the ring is hollow, it raises questions about why the button is being pushed.

Case in point: The National Audubon Society, a seeming pillar of integrity, may be guilty of spinning the facts about the disappearance of some 20 species of common birds in North America.

The society made a big media splash about the disappearances this summer and the mainstream media gobbled it up like a vulture on roadkill. But some veteran students of the birds in these latitudes, and perhaps elsewhere, are saying not so fast. Maybe Audubon is pushing the truth envelope.

Which is not to accuse the organization of unbridled political spin-doctoring, the kind of which the benumbed American public has been overdosed to the point of nausea by the major political parties. But picking facts to reach foregone conclusions, when found out, can tarnish an image that takes a long time to fix.
Pollick quoted the research director of Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Mark Shieldcastle, as well as Kenn Kaufman. What do you think of their comments?

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Blogger Patrick Belardo said...

That's a shame that this is turning out this way. I thought that this announcement from Audubon was one that the entire birding community was getting behind. I can definitely see Pollick's points and the comment that Kenn Kaufman made at the end is very poignant.

August 07, 2007 4:54 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Patrick, this is the first article I've seen that looks askance at the Audubon report. Have you seen others?

August 07, 2007 9:13 AM  
Blogger birdchaser said...

Since I work for Audubon, maybe I can't really be objective, but since I wasn't really involved with this report, but know a bit about how it came out, let me just say that I don't think the criticisms are as informed as they could be. The actual technical report has a lot more information about the study that could have been consulted. And the study authors could have been consulted to answer these charges as well.

August 07, 2007 10:13 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Agreed, Rob.

August 07, 2007 2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems the questions raised in the article and the points made by both Mr. Kaufmann and Mr. Shieldcastle deal with the habitat extremes; however even if the populations are changing at the extremes or the populations are shifting on the whole, we are still left with the fact that something is happening to the populations in question. Audubon's point, that we need to start addressing these population declines now so that we are not left without some or all of these species in the future is well taken. The Bald Eagle reference is a bit of a red herring; saying that bird populations are healthy due to its stabilization and recovery following decades of what is perhaps the most well funded non-game bird species conservation effort in U.S. simply doesn't follow.

August 07, 2007 8:18 PM  

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