Saltmarsh Sparrow May Go Extinct In 50 Years, Says Study

Posted: Nov 28 2016, 10:25pm CST | by , Updated: Nov 30 2016, 8:20pm CST , in Latest Science News


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Saltmarsh Sparrow May Go Extinct in 50 Years, Says Study
Credit: Evan Lipton

Many of the Connecticut native birds inclduing saltmarsh sparrow are suffering slow, steady decline in population.

Saltmarsh sparrow, a bird native to Connecticut, is heading towards extinction.

Experts warn that saltmarsh sparrow could disappear as soon as 50 years from now and if this happens, it could be the first bird species to go extinct in the continental United States in almost 80 years.

Although a number of bird species found in Connecticut are suffering slow and steady declines in population but saltmarsh sparrow, in particular, has seen a significant population drop over the past few years. The decline in population is attributed to the loss of nesting areas. The only place the bird lays eggs is on the beach but rising sea levels are causing damage to its habitat along the shorelines of Connecticut and elsewhere.

“It would be the first avian extinction in the continental U.S. since the Heath Hen in 1931,” said Milan Bull from Connecticut Audobon Society who wrote in the annual report on bird species in Connecticut. “There's no way to characterize that as anything but a disaster.”

Satlmarsh sparrow is a small American sparrow that lives in coastal areas from Maine to Virginia during breading season and spends winter in North Carolina and Florida. The sparrow can grow up to 14 cm in length and weighs just about half an ounce. The bird is always hard to see becauseit blends in the background due to its rusty color.

Researchers have been tracking this sparrow for several years and have reported a drop of about 9 percent in their population annually since 1998. Still, their population is fairly stable as of right now. An estimated 53,000 saltmarsh sparrows are found in United States today but their population could drop to 5,000 with next 25 years and may go completely extinct in the following 25 years. The sparrow is listed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) list of threatened species.

A number of factors like construction of roads and railways, beachside homes and invasive plants are interfering with the habitats of saltmarsh sparrow but rising sea levels are still having the most devastating impact on their population.

Audubon Society recommends the state's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to provide alternate landscapes for the refuge of the bird and also work for protecting and expanding their natural habitats.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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