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A few weeks ago I wrote about the need for preservation of habitat for birds. I mentioned pheasant as a species that enjoys such efforts. A reader pointed out that pheasants are not native birds.

My response: Pheasants, native or not, aren't the issue. For me, it's about habitat creation and restoration. Pheasants benefit from efforts of Pheasants Forever. Most members, I assume, are hunters. I stopped hunting years ago. It is habitat that concerns me now, as it concerns PF members.

Pheasant habitat is good for dozens of bird species that are not hunted. Ditto wetland work by Ducks Unlimited and Delta Waterfowl and work in the woods by the Ruffed Grouse Society.

Members of those groups invest muscle and money to make certain there is the habitat required by their favored birds. I send membership dues to organizations because their habitat work also benefits dozens of my favorite birds.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology recently compiled a report on the state of all wild birds in the U.S. The report included these comments:

"While a majority of bird species are declining, many waterbird populations remain healthy, thanks to decades of collaborative investments from hunters, landowners, state and federal agencies, and corporations," said Karen Waldrop, chief conservation officer for Ducks Unlimited.

"This is good news not only for birds, but for the thousands of other species that rely on wetlands, and the communities that benefit from groundwater recharge, carbon sequestration and flood protection."

There is no group that targets habitat preservation for particular songbirds, no White-throated Sparrows Forever for example.

I do have to mention the North American Bluebird Society. It promotes placement of nesting boxes for bluebirds, natural nesting cavities being mostly things of the past. Society members are just like hunters in habitat regard.

The Cornell report announcement continues:

"Long-term trends of waterfowl show strong increases where investments in wetland conservation have improved conditions for birds and people. But data show birds in the United States are declining overall in every other habitat — forests, grasslands, deserts and oceans.

"Published by 33 leading science and conservation organizations and agencies, the 2022 U.S. State of the Birds report is the first look at the nation's birds since a landmark 2019 study showed the loss of 3 billion birds in the United States and Canada in 50 years.

Findings included in the report:

  • More than half of U.S. bird species are declining.
  • U.S. grassland birds are among the fastest declining with a 34% loss since 1970.
  • Waterbirds and ducks in the U.S. have increased by 18% and 34% respectively during the same period.
  • 70 newly identified Tipping Point species have each lost 50% or more of their populations in the past 50 years, and are on track to lose another half in the next 50 years if nothing changes.

This is a problem with an obvious and simple answer — the report suggests that "applying that winning formula in more habitats will help birds and natural resources rebound."

If you as a birder object to birds being hunted, please get over it. Become a member of one or all of those hunter organizations. They are doing good work. Help them out.

(The list of our gamebird organizations includes the Minnesota Prairie Chicken Society, the Minnesota Sharp-tailed Grouse Society, and the Minnesota chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. Woodcock are addressed by the Ruffed Grouse Society.)

Lifelong birder Jim Williams can be reached at