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** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

December 28, 2011

State's migratory songbirds could use a helping hand

The numbers of many neotropical migratory birds are declining precipitously, but the state wildlife agency says people can help by taking some simple steps.

Neotropical migratory birds are those species that nest in North America and migrate to the tropics to spend the winter. In South Carolina 47 percent, or 53 species, of our nesting land birds are considered neotropical migrants. They include such familiar birds as purple martins, ruby-throated hummingbirds and whip-poor-wills but also less-well-known groups such as warblers, vireos, tanagers, orioles, flycatchers and thrushes. Neotropical migrants are among our most beautiful and musical birds.

"Neotropical migratory birds are facing a triple whammy," said Lex Glover, wildlife technician with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR). "Their habitat is being degraded on the breeding grounds here in the United States, in the tropics where they spend the winter, and on the migration corridors in between. So these birds are getting hit coming, going and in the middle."

For more information on neotropical migratory birds, visit International Migratory Bird Day.

Neotropical migratory birds are highly sensitive to highways, powerlines, urban sprawl and other development that subdivides and fragments habitats. Other hazards include pesticide poisoning, especially on the wintering grounds, and excess mortality from flying into tall buildings, windows and tall towers, especially during migration.

Despite the litany of woes suffered by these birds at the hands of people, Glover said there are many ways average citizens can help neotropical migratory birds:

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