Beyond habitat loss or alteration, there is an increase in dispersed mortality factors that accompany the growth of human populations and technology. These include a wide variety of problems, from bird collisions with communication towers and buildings, to predation by house cats and mortality from .
Breeding Bird Survey population data for Cerulean Warblers
House cats are often considered the largest predator on songbirds in the United States. Several estimates suggest that cats kill hundreds of millions of birds a year in the United States alone. This has led the American Bird Conservancy to start a Cats Indoors program to encourage more responsible pet ownership.
An added complication for protecting neotropical migrants is that by definition, they are highly mobile. To fully protect them, we must preserve not only their breeding grounds, but migratory stopover sites and wintering habitat as well. Because these birds winter in other countries, international cooperation is critical to their preservation. An example of this challenge was a massive hawk die-off in 1996 in Argentina, where DDT killed an estimated 20,000 Swainson’s Hawks (8% of the world’s population). DDT had been illegal for over 20 years in the United States, but is still heavily used overseas.
WHAT IS BEING DONE?
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation of all wildlife species, and is involved widely in the conservation of our neotropical migratory birds. The Non-game Wildlife Section of Georgia’s Wildlife Resources division is involved in education, research and monitoring of threatened species, ongoing management of habitat, and acquisition of important habitat for wildlife. The Non-game section helped establish birding festivals and trails to promote awareness of our neotropical migratory birds. These education efforts include the Pinewoods Bird Festival, and the Colonial Coast Birding Trail. Research projects are currently underway to establish management strategies for some of our most threatened migratory birds, such as Golden-winged, Cerulean and Swainson’s Warblers. We are also involved in a number of surveys to monitor populations of our migratory birds. WRD works with private landowners to help them manage land for our migratory birds. A good example is the collaboration with large landowners to conserve breeding habitat for Swallow-tailed Kites. Also, critical new habitat is purchased or protected in order to preserve or create habitat for migrants. The Game Management section manages large amounts of land called Wildlife Management Areas (WMA’s) for all wildlife, especially game species. These WMA’s typically provide excellent habitat for our neotropical migratory species as well.
With over 200 species of neotropical migrants nesting in the United States, there is a huge amount to learn about their various habitats, behaviors, and population status. As some of the most attractive and easily observed wildlife species, bird watching is becoming increasingly popular among people of all ages. There are a number of citizen science programs that amateur birders can become involved with that can add