Connecticut State of the Birds Report

Connecticut State of the Birds cover collage


Connecticut Audubon Society is an independent science-based conservation organization focused on Connecticut’s native birds and habitats. In keeping with our mission and beginning in 2006, the Society has released an annual “Connecticut State of the Birds” report. This remains a first-of-its-kind report for Connecticut, each year highlighting different conservation challenges and including Connecticut Audubon Society’s recommendations to address them.

You can download copies of all Connecticut State of the Birds reports through these links:

2016 Gains, Losses and the Prospect of Extinction

2015 Protecting and Connecting Large Landscapes

2014 Connecticut’s Diverse Landscape: Managing Our Habitats for Wildlife

2013 Connecticut State of the Birds: The Seventh Habitat and the Decline of Our Aerial Insectivores.

2012 Connecticut State of the Birds: Where Is the Next Generation of Conservationists Coming From?

2011 Connecticut State of the Birds: Conserving our Forest Birds

2010 Connecticut State of the Birds: Citizen Scientists Contribute to Conservation

2009 Connecticut State of the Birds: Bird Conservation Priorities

2008 Connecticut State of the Birds: Specific Conservation Complexities and Challenges

2007 Connecticut State of the Birds: Specific Threats to Connecticut’s Birds

2006 Connecticut State of the Birds: Conserving Birds and Their Habitats

The initial report, “Connecticut State of the Birds 2006,” focused on the single major threat to our native birds: habitat loss. As a result, an estimated 50% of Connecticut’s native bird species are declining, and 17% are on the State’s “Endangered,” “Threatened” or “Species of Special Concern” list. That is: 50 out of 290 regularly or annually occurring bird species in Connecticut are State-listed.  Our 2006 report also contains our five specific, science-based recommendations for mitigating these threats and protecting Connecticut’s birds and habitats. In cooperation with the State and other conservation organizations, Connecticut Audubon Society has followed through on all five recommendations, and we are pleased to see that bird conservation in Connecticut is moving forward.

For our “Connecticut State of the Birds 2007” Report, another group of independent experts described the next most serious set of threats to our native birds. These are specific factors, either man-made or within our control, that kill or injure millions of birds annually and destroy precious habitat. Just one of these, glass strikes, conservatively kills an estimated 100 million birds every year in the U.S. — and some experts say as many as 1 billion!

The “Connecticut State of the Birds 2008” Report describes possible conservation strategies for six bird species that are in serious trouble — and for which their Connecticut habitat is critical to their global survival — to illustrate how complex the problems and solutions are related to habitat protection and bird conservation. These include Saltmarsh (Sharp-tailed) Sparrow, Blue-winged Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, American Oystercatcher, Cerulean Warbler, and Bobolink. The report shows that there are no simple “one-size-fits-all” conservation solutions. The next, difficult steps are to design, fund and implement action plans that address the problems we’ve identified, including changing human behavior, which is probably the most difficult challenge of all.

The “Connecticut State of the Birds 2009“ Report focuses on whether the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA, enacted in 1973) and Connecticut’s ESA (CT-ESA, enacted in 1989) are the best tools for identifying and protecting endangered species in Connecticut. Our report provides a unique “Conservation Matrix” of 60 “at risk” Connecticut bird species that CAS’s Science and Conservation staff selected from the 130 species that are ESA- or CT-ESA-listed or watch-listed by four key bird conservation organizations and government agencies. Using four additional criteria, Connecticut Audubon Society designates its “Top 20 Conservation Priority Bird Species” that will serve as indicator species for identifying and prioritizing critical “Biological Conservation Units” (BCUs) statewide. A BCU is a suite of species – plants as well as animals – combined with the key habitat upon which they depend. Based on its findings, Connecticut Audubon Society makes five recommendations that would result in a statewide plan for land acquisition to restore and maintain biological diversity as an integral part of the state of Connecticut’s goal of 21% protected land by 2023 as outlined in “The Green Plan.”
Connecticut Audubon Society’s “Connecticut State of the Birds 2010” Report, which is subtitled “Citizen Scientists Contribute to Conservation,” recognizes the important role of trained volunteers in collecting field data for environmental studies. It also provides a call to action, encouraging residents of all ages and levels of interest and experience to get involved with the ongoing citizen-science programs taking place across Connecticut.
The “Connecticut State of the Birds 2011” report was released  during a press conference at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. It reveals new and startling information about our forests and the birds that depend on them. For example, did you know that for the first time in over 150 years our forest resources are declining permanently? Fragmentation and parcelization are reducing our forests into smaller and smaller blocks that can no longer support productive populations of forest-dependent birds. Unlike the past changes in our forests, when they have been converted to agricultural and wood product use, then regrown when abandoned, today our forests are disappearing due to “hard development,” such as highways, residential and commercial expansion that permanently destroy forests that may never return. The eight contributing authors to the State of the Birds Report 2011 include leading experts from Connecticut and around the East who have identified the problems and have recommended strategies and solutions to end this negative trend of declining bird populations.

We released our 2012 report, “Where Is the Next Generation of Conservationists Coming From?” at a news conference in February 2012. Based on its findings, we increased our concentration on creating more outdoor educational opportunities with more partners for more children.

The goal is to help create a deeper, long-term commitment to conservation, as well as contribute to the health and academic success of our state’s children. Details are here.

Connecticut State of the Birds – “The Seventh Habitat and the Decline of Our Aerial Insectivores”– looks into the dramatic population decline of 17 birds that nest in Connecticut and eat only insects they catch on the wing. Details can be found here.

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