Audubon Releases List of Birds in Trouble in Alaska

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Audubon Alaska has released  a list of birds in trouble.   The 2010 Audubon Watchlist pinpoints 49 declining and vulnerable bird species in Alaska.  The list is an early warning system that calls attention to at risk birds.

Factors outside Alaska influence the status of migrating birds, according to Beth Peluso, Audubon Alaska’s communications manager.

She says the list looks at the percentage of the global population of migrating birds which occurs in Alaska to determine the ranking.

Some songbirds have made the list.  Peluso  says the local Varied Thrush stands out as a declining species, but there is no known reason why.

Matt Kirchhoff,  Audubon Alaska’s director of bird conservation,  says the information in the watchlist is based on field surveys and reports by government agencies.

Kirchoff says the list is also useful to conservationists interested in evaluating the impacts of  proposed development projects on bird species that may be vulnerable.

The list has two categories.  Red List species — 31 in all — are declining or depressed below recent historcial levels, while Yellow List species – 18 of them – are vulnerable species with small populations.  The list contains some surprises.

Kirchoff says the Dusky Canada goose, a subspecies of Canada Goose, which exists in a localized area,  is high on the list of vulnerable birds

Audubon Alaska first Watchlist was released in 2002,  with an update in 2005.   This year’s list highlights shorebirds,  such as the Lesser Yellowlegs,  which are in decline due to habitat degradation.

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