December 15, 2020

Tallying Bird Populations Then and Now

How many ducks and geese used the Estuary before the Gold Rush? The numbers are beyond conjecture, but they must have been mind-boggling. Observers writing about a hundred years ago noted major decreases during the era of market hunting, when waterfowl were shot to supply the restaurants and stores of California’s emerging cities, but offered no hard numbers. However, they recorded their observations of the abundance and seasonal presence of different species. Since then, government surveys, Audubon Society Christmas Bird Counts, and sport hunting records show a mix of change and continuity, with some duck species either scarce or common in the last century and now, and other common species becoming rare or vice versa. The US Fish and Wildlife...
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