Birds are tremendous indicators of ecological health. Declines in air quality were signaled by acid rain effects on Wood Thrushes in the Northeast, and pesticide contamination impacts were shown in declines of Bald Eagles. Our coastal resilience work uses marsh birds—the Saltmarsh Sparrow in particular—as an environmental mirror for the health of our coastal ecosystems and local communities.
The Long Island Sound and Atlantic Ocean coastlines and their associated marshes, islands and beaches are being squeezed by rising sea levels and human development. The ecosystem is too critical to the health of birds and people not to take action to protect it. It supports almost 25 percent of the Atlantic Coast breeding population of the Piping Plover, nearly 50 percent of the Roseate Tern global population, 12 percent of the Saltmarsh Sparrow global population, and the largest Common Tern nesting colony in the world. And over seven percent of the entire population of the United States live within a 50 mile radius of the Sound.
Given its global importance and our deep experience working to protect birds along the coasts, Audubon is dedicated to building a resilient, healthy coast for the future.
Working locally, we are:
- Mobilizing our network to advocate for funding and policies that protect the Sound and critical coastal habitats
- Engaging in beach stewardship activities to save birds that rely on the coastal habitats
- Leading on coastal resilience solutions, like salt marsh restoration and restoring natural hydrology, to protect birds and coastal communities from storm events and sea level rise.
These project sites are essential to protecting birds and people from increased flooding and more frequent storms.
Fragile Saltmarsh Sparrow populations are the driving force behind a new focus on coastal resilience.