The State of the Birds

State of the Birds: Wildlife Project

Purple Finch, photo by Jason Lambert

Early in 2010, NH Audubon and NH Fish and Game released a first of its kind report for New Hampshire. “The State of New Hampshire’s Birds” compiled data on the population trends for all 186 breeding bird species in the state, summarized information on the threats facing birds and their habitats, and proposed conservation actions that can both recover populations in trouble and ensure the continued presence of more common species.

Overall, roughly one third of NH’s breeding species are in decline, one third are increasing or stable, and data are lacking to determine the trends for the final third. While reasons for decline are many, an overarching issue continues to be habitat loss, particularly for shrubland and grassland birds, as well as for many forest species that migrate to the tropics during the winter months. Other threats include climate change, predation, pesticides, and human disturbance. Many of the increasing species with increasing or stable populations are the beneficiaries of previous conservation efforts (e.g., Wild Turkey, Bald Eagle, Common Tern, Common Loon) or are southern species that are expanding their ranges north. Although the former group of species are secure from a conservation standpoint, continued management is sometimes needed to prevent declines from resuming. For other species with stable or increasing populations, it is critical to recognize that an important goal of bird conservation is to “keep common species common.” In this context, keeping track of secure species serves as an early warning system for future conservation priorities, and hopefully we can address new threats before a species becomes threatened or endangered. It is for this reason that is it especially important to collect data birds whose population trends are not well documented, since doing so may identify new species in need to targeted conservation work.

In 2011 NH Audubon produced “The State of New Hampshire’s Birds: A Conservation Guide.” The Conservation Guide takes the information from the original report and presents it in a non-technical form that is colorful and easy to understand. It includes photos of birds and their habitat, information on how our state’s birds are doing, threats to their populations, and conservation strategies for each group of birds. You’ll also find a new section with a wide variety of actions that individuals, businesses, and communities can undertake to help our birds. The Conservation Guide is available at all NH Audubon Centers and can be downloaded here. The original report and supplementary materials are available at the NH Fish and Game website (http://www.wildnh.com/birds).

Note that many of NH Audubon’s other bird projects are tied in some way to threats and strategies identified in the “State of the Birds” report. You are encouraged to look more closely at these pages within the “Conservation Science” section of the NH Audubon website.

Project Leader: Pam Hunt