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RECREATION NOTES The National Audubon Society has released the first national "The State of the Birds'' report documenting the health and abundance of North America's birds and it paints a disturbing picture.

Almost 30 per cent of North America's bird species are in "significant decline.'' The overall state of the birds shows:

70 per cent of grassland species are in statistically significant declines.

36 per cent of shrubland bird species are declining significantly.

25 per cent of forest bird species are declining significantly.

13 per cent of wetland bird species are declining significantly.

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23 per cent of bird species in urban areas are declining significantly.

According to the "State of the Birds,'' these declines are abnormal. Not part of the natural cyclical rise and fall in bird populations, "statistically significant declines'' are due to outside factors such as loss of native grasslands, overgrazing of grassland and shrub land, development of wetlands, bad forest management, invasive species, pollution, and poor land use decisions.

In Minnesota, several species in particular have been hardest hit. These include: Loggerhead Shrike (state threatened), Eastern Meadlowlark, Western Meadowlark, Field Sparrow, Dickcissel, Red-headed Woodpecker, and Brown Thrasher.

"Like the canary in the coal mine warning the miner of danger ahead, birds are an indicator of environmental and human health,'' said Audubon President John Flicker. "Birds signal that we are at risk next.'' People created these problems and people can solve them if we act now.''

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