I came home last week to find an injured bird, a mourning dove, on my driveway. The bird seemed to have a damaged wing and foot. Now I know that the right thing to do is to effectively dispatch the bird—put it out of its misery—but that is not something I’m capable of doing on my best day. Luckily, Ann Arbor is home to the Bird Center of Washtenaw County, which takes injured birds to rehabilitate and release.
While bird rescue organizations are pitching in to help the avian population, it’s not enough to replace the steep losses we’ve seen in bird populations. A new study published in the journal Science indicates that the United States and Canada have lost 2.9 billion birds in the last roughly 50 years. The report shows staggering losses even among traditionally abundant birds such as robins and sparrows. The decline in population is due to habitat loss and pesticides.
A bipartisan bill, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, has been introduced into Congress. This bill would dedicate about $1.4 billion to the Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program for “proactive, voluntary efforts led by the states, territories and tribal nations to prevent vulnerable wildlife from becoming endangered.” If passed, the act would increase funding for Michigan’s Wildlife Action Plan from under $2 million to $37 million after funding and matching grants that would allow the rebuilding and preservation of habitats for threatened birds as well as other species.
While waiting for passage, individuals can help in smaller ways (e.g., keep cats inside) and use products (curtains of nylon fibers, bird safety film) that prevent run-of-the-mill bird casualties from window collisions. Every little bit helps, and these steps will keep you from having to Google “how to kill a wounded bird” from your driveway.