Controlling air pollution is not just for the benefit of humans. Exposure to pollution can harm birds and other animals, just like it does people, while also harming the environment around them. Ground-level ozone pollution, for example, can contribute to habitat damage and food source loss for birds. In fact, habitat loss and degradation, on the whole, have resulted in an 80-99% decline in the abundance of grassland bird populations since 1966.
By reducing air pollution and conserving bird habitats, we can improve air quality and the environment for countless species. Scientists estimate that the U.S. has prevented the loss of 1.5 billion birds through air quality improvements over the past 40 years. In particular, the NOx Budget Trading Program helped protect bird populations by lowering the amount of ozone-forming pollution emitted into the air. To help conserve bird habitats in NYS, DEC created the Bird Conservation Area (BCA) Program. The BCA Program integrates bird conservation interests into agency decisions, protecting bird populations and food sources.
Everyday actions that reduce air pollution can help increase bird populations and protect the environment and our air. You can help by avoiding spray pesticides, using sustainable landscaping techniques (electric or battery-powered equipment), and contributing to a citizen science project like Project Feederwatch or the North American Breeding Bird Survey.
Photo of Eastern Meadowlark provided by DEC.