As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Angry birders: Farm bill in flux imperils feathered friends

With the farm bill in flux, it’s looking more and more likely that the environment will take a hit. The Conservation Reserve Program, which recently accounted for 7 percent of farm bill funding, essentially pays farmers to produce wildlife, instead of producing crops. Since there’s no market that rewards farmers for preserving biodiversity, or enriching the world with birdsong, it’s the sort of thing that government is uniquely equipped to do.

The Conservation Reserve Program has made a big difference in the lives of tiny birds. Take the Henslow’s sparrow for instance: Populations declined precipitously between the 1960s and 1985, when suburbs sprawled into and farmers plowed more of the grassland habitat they require. But since the beginning of the program in 1985, the number of Henslow’s sparrows (surveyed in Illinois) has increased by a factor of 25.

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