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The authors of the latest State of the Birds report describe it as a tale of two trends: one dire, one hopeful. Maryland straddles both outlooks.
On the hopeful side, the long-term population study of our much-loved waterfowl shows extraordinary increases. Numbers of geese and swans have skyrocketed by over 1,000 percent, dabbling and diving duck numbers are up 34 percent, and waterbirds have increased 18 percent since 1970, the base year for the bird counts.
That is a direct result of years of conservation efforts, including cleaning the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed and protecting vulnerable wetlands from development and pollution here in Maryland and along other U.S. coastlines.
Now for the bad news. There has been about a one-third decline in the numbers of grassland birds, shorebirds, and Eastern forest birds (34, 33, and 27 percent respectively since 1970).
Why are shorebirds declining while most geese, swans, and ducks are doing well?