Building Places Where Birds and People ThriveAmerican Goldfinch on purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), by Dan Vickers.
By Jared Teutsch, Executive Director
Birds are a catalyst for conservation. Easy to see and hear wherever you are—in parks and greenspaces, in our yards, on city sidewalks, and beyond—birds provide an entry point into nature appreciating and understanding the challenges we all face to protect these spaces, in the city and beyond.
Georgia Audubon is a member-supported, non-profit conservation organization building places where birds and people thrive. We engage and collaborate across the state to combine on-the-ground conservation actions and to create a public policy that focuses on conserving birds and their habitats. Building off of our three pillars of Conservation, Education, and Community Engagement, we use science-based, bird-focused programs to build a conservation ethic in individuals, landowners, businesses, partner organizations, policy makers, and communities throughout the state.
Just like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, birds are sounding the alarm that our shared ecosystems are facing serious threats. In a groundbreaking study published in the leading scientific journal Science in late 2019, we learned that in less than one lifetime, North America has lost three billion birds—more than one in four—from every habitat type. Additionally, a recent report from National Audubon describes the profound impact the climate crisis will have on North American bird species. If we take no action, the report indicates that nearly two-thirds of North American birds are at risk of extinction.
Here in Georgia, we face a significant loss of our favorite bird species due to climate change, habitat loss and fragmentation, building collisions, increased pesticide use, and other factors. Statewide, 23 percent—or 58 of Georgia’s 254 bird species—are vulnerable. Without mitigation of these threats, many common Georgia species like the our state bird, the Brown Thrasher, and many other species could become uncommon or even disappear from Georgia.
Birds are an important indicator species; if an ecosystem is broken for birds, it is or soon will be broken for people, too. Healthy habitats, including parks and greenspaces, that support birds and other wildlife create healthy communities that we all can not only enjoy, but that we need for our own healthy survival.
As the newest participant in Saporta Report’s Thought Leader Series and a recent sponsor of the 2021 Mayoral Forum on Greenspace, Georgia Audubon believes that just as bird diversity strengthens ecosystems, the diversity of human experiences, traditions, and viewpoints strengthen our conservation, education, and community engagement efforts. Through these monthly columns, we will explore some of the issues facing Atlanta’s people, places, and parks— through the lens of birds—and discuss ways the City in the Forest can create high-quality urban habitat to ensure the future health of people and birds. We are excited to be a part of this groundbreaking series.