“3 Billion Birds Lost” Lecture: From “What If?” to Full House!


By Janice Levasheff, Membership Chair

[Editor’s note: This is the full article referred to on page 3 of El Tecolote March-May 2020.]

We feel fortunate that we were able to bring Dr. Kenneth Rosenberg here, from Lori Gaskin’s “what if” idea, to Katherine Emery’s reaching out to a fellow Cornell alum with the enticement of a January visit to sunny Santa Barbara, to UCSB Arts & Lectures arranging his trip and talk as part of their Thematic Learning Initiative, and to the S.B. Museum of Natural History graciously providing their recently renovated Fleischmann Auditorium as the venue for his talk. This was truly the happy result of a successful collaboration among our three organizations!

Thoughts from our Co-Presenters:

Roman Baratiak, Associate Director, UCSB A&L: “Last night was a perfect example of why collaboration works!! Three outstanding organizations with talented and engaged teams communicating with their constituents and the public about an event on a very important topic. Congratulations and sincerest thanks to each of you!! It was a real pleasure to be a part of the team!”

Luke Swetland, President & CEO, SBMNH: “Thank you for letting the SBMNH be part of your flock!”

Many thanks to those who attended Dr. Rosenberg’s talk on January 29.  Every seat in the auditorium was filled. In fact, more people showed than could be accommodated, so unfortunately some had to be turned away. As of this writing we are investigating whether there is a recording of Dr. Rosenberg’s presentation that we can share. If so, we will provide those details to you.

Ken’s talk was engaging – most of the information is on Cornell’s “3billionbirds.org” site – and it was great to hear the lead author present his findings, along with “7 Simple Actions that People Can Do”.  Many representatives from local agencies and environmental organizations came, and the audience was very engrossed.  At the Q&A, more than one person asked what they can do.

That same morning a few of us accompanied Ken, his wife Anne, and local birding expert Mark Holmgren on a tour of North Campus Open Space (NCOS) with Lisa Stratton, Director of Ecosystem Management for UCSB’s Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration. We then went to Coal Oil Point Reserve (COPR), where we saw Western Snowy Plovers huddled in the sand. Conservation Committee member Steve Ferry happened to be doing his COPR docent duty while we were there, so he also met Dr. Rosenberg. The highlight of the day was a Black-legged Kittiwake sighting at NCOS!

Mark had this to say about the study by Dr. Rosenberg, et al: “One aspect of his study that stands out is that he has pioneered the blending of multiple data sets to arrive at a continent-wide and confident statement on changing bird populations.  We’re still searching for the causes of the changes.  His team has produced a model that can be deployed by other researchers with similar questions in different areas and at different geographic scales.”

We wish to extend our appreciation to Mark for taking the Rosenbergs to local birding spots and to Lisa Stratton for giving them a tour of NCOS.  We are also very grateful to our co-presenters, the UCSB Arts & Lectures Thematic Learning Initiative and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Without their generous support, we would not have been able to have Dr. Rosenberg come to Santa Barbara.