How The Drought Is Affecting The Avian Species In The United States?
Aljazeera had published a report, ‘Drought threatens California wildlife’, in which specific threats were brought to light. California has been suffering from one of the worst droughts in recorded history. Fisheries have dried up. Animals have started to migrate and they are desperate for some water sources and food. Wildlife experts have stated that several animal and bird species have already been affected and many more will suffer. As the drought becomes a recurring event, the gravity of the threat to various animal and bird species is only becoming more severe.
Let us take a look at some of the worst affects of the drought in the country on the avian creatures.
• Waterfowl is the most threatened species among birds. All birds that need wetlands as their natural habitat are struggling because their homes are drying up. Geese, ducks and swans are having a very tough time. The breeding population of waterfowl in the state of California was 451,000 in 2013, which was 15% less than the population in 2012. 15% reduction in a year is alarming. The decline will become exponential if the drought persists and becomes more regular and severe.
• Across the United States, half of all wetlands are reportedly drained. In the state of California, about 95% of all wetlands have practically vanished. They don’t exist anymore. As waterfowls try to migrate, they become an easy target for predators and that can lead to a major outbreak of diseases such as cholera and avian botulism. The waterfowls may not be facing extinction right now because of their sheer numbers but they can be further endangered if nothing is done or if they don’t get access to water sources and food.
• The situation is not any better in states like Texas and Colorado. In Texas, Lake Meredith is dry. The salinity in Laguna Madre has risen to 150% above the salinity of sea water. There has been a reduction of 240,000 in the population of water birds in the last few years. That is in Texas alone.
Many birds have already gone extinct. Many species of birds are not seen in cities anymore. Baby boomers would know how they had grown up watching certain birds in their neighborhoods, many of which are not seen any more.
While ordinary Americans cannot do much on a large scale, people can always take some measures individually. A simple act like installing a window bird feeder that has two compartments can save many birds. Filling up the two-compartment window bird feeder once or twice a day with food and water will ensure that the birds nearby have an access to what they need to survive. Having water sources is more important than food for birds, especially when there is a drought and during summers.