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June 14, 2021

A ‘Hail Mary’ to Save Bird Species in Maryland

Ask students: What is causing the decline of shorebird populations in Maryland? Why are these bird habitats disappearing?


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Climate Change and Disappearing Native Species

On Maryland’s eastern shore, small islands used by birds for nesting are disappearing. That coincides with a steep drop in several species of colonial nesting birds in the state. But this spring, in what’s being described as a ‘Hail Mary,’ advocates have launched an artificial nesting platform to provide habitat for birds. This program is one example of the ways scientists are trying to protect against present-day harms of climate and environmental change.  Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions below. To read the transcript of the video above, click here.

Discussion Questions

  • What is causing the decline of shorebird populations in Maryland?
  • Why are these bird habitats disappearing?
  • When and Where did scientists first develop the solution they are using to increase bird populations?
  • Who is taking action to increase these bird populations?
  • How have scientists already attempted to solve this problem?

Focus Questions

  1. What are some other actions that could help solve the problem of declining bird populations? Whose help is needed to solve it? 
  2. Can you think of any environmental changes in your own community due to development, climate change or extreme weather? What are some possible solutions to help address the problem, and whose help is needed with those solutions?

Media Literacy: What other forms of media or information might be helpful to understand this problem that the segment did not use?

Dig Deeper

  • To learn more about the birds mentioned in the video — royal and common terns — see this site or this one.
  • Want to explore the Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystem and organisms interactively? Check out this resource

Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Extra.

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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