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Nationally, many bird species fluttering

Another report card to take note of:  a comprehensive new look at the state of the nation's birds finds that several major groupings of our feathered friends are in trouble, particularly seabirds, coastal shorebirds and those that frequent grasslands and open prairies.  (The bird pictured above, photographed by Greg Lavaty, is a cerulean warbler, which favors forests.)

In all, nearly a third of the nation's 800 bird species are endangered, threatened or in significant decline, the State of the Birds report says.  Among the chief culprits are habitat loss and invasive species.

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The report pulls together data from long-running bird censuses conducted by flocks of citizen bird-watchers and professional avian biologists, including the Breeding Bird Survey run by the federal government and the National Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count.

"From shorebirds in New England to warblers in Michigan to songbirds in Hawaii, we are seeing disturbing downward population trends that should set off environmental alarm bells," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in releasing the report.

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Of particular concern is Hawaii, where 71 bird species have gone extinct in the millenia since humans settled the Pacific islands.  In the past 40 years alone, 10 more species have vanished.

About 39 percent of U.S. seabirds are declining as well, which experts attribute to pollution, loss of fish and warming ocean temperatures.  And some coastal shorebirds, most notably the red knot, are in serious trouble.

Birds that nest and forage in wetlands seem to be doing well, the report finds. Pelicans, herons, egrets, osprey and ducks all have benefited from efforts to preserve and restore marshy areas, experts say.  Those and others, like the bald eagle and peregrine falcon, have recovered from reproductive problems caused by DDT poisoning.

Still, birds that favor forests, dry areas and grasslands are struggling, in large part because their habitats are being altered and destroyed by development and agricultural practices.

The chart below shows the trends among key species, by habitat type. For more, look here.

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