As Connecticut bird populations decline, one species inches clos - WFSB 3 Connecticut

As Connecticut bird populations decline, one species inches closer to extinction

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Salt Marsh Sparrow. (Paul J. Fusco/CT Audobon Society photo) Salt Marsh Sparrow. (Paul J. Fusco/CT Audobon Society photo)
FAIRFIELD, CT (WFSB) -

A number of Connecticut birds are suffering steady population declines, according to the Connecticut Audubon Society.

One may be extinct in a matter of decades.

The group released its Connecticut State of the Birds 2016 report on Monday.

It blamed the declines on the loss of the birds' specialized nesting areas.

Birds that have been the hardest hit are species that nest in large grasslands, shrubby areas, beaches or tidal wetlands.

See photos of the notable birds here.

It said one species in particular, the saltmarsh sparrow, may become extinct within 50 years.

The society said that while a handful of species, like the piping plovers, made progress, the losses outweigh the gains.

“Despite some improvements, most of the trends aren’t good,” said Milan G. Bull, the group's senior director of science and conservation. “Marsh birds such as clapper rails and shrubland birds such as blue-winged warblers and brown thrashers continue to decline. And birds such as piping plovers are still highly vulnerable despite recent successes."

Bull said the saltmarsh sparrow would be the first avian extinction in the continental U.S. since 1931.

"There’s no way to characterize that as anything but a disaster," he said.

The society's director, Nelson North, called their report an eyeopener.

"It clearly shows that the future of avian diversity and abundance in our state will depend on the public will to conserve these resources," North said.

Connecticut’s tidal marshes are home to breeding populations of 150 clapper rails, 800 willets, 1,600 saltmarsh sparrows and 1,000 seaside sparrows, which are species that can nest in no other habitat. 

The group said the state needs to act soon if the birds are to be protected.

Field sparrows, brown thrashes and blue-winged warblers suffered a 5 percent population decline. They nest in shrubs which have been lost to lawns or areas that grew into mature forests.

Read more from the Connecticut Audubon Society's report here.

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