Sage Grouse, like these fellas photographed by Carrie, can dance a little easier knowing that private landowners are looking out for them.

The former mayor of New York City, Ed Koch, was famous for his catchphrase, “How’m I doing?” The answer to that question these days is, to put it bluntly, still dead. But that’s not the case for many birds who live in or pass through the United States, a new report indicates. (Sorry for that painfully awkward segue; I clearly need a refresher course in smooth transitions, or 50 lashes with a wet noodle, or both.)

The State of the Birds 2013, produced by the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, was introduced last week by the U.S. secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior. A quick rundown of the results is here, and you can find the whole shebang here. The report shows that private landowners, who are responsible for about 60 percent of the land in the United States, play a vital role in helping bird populations thrive, whether those birds are breeding residents or stopover migrants.

Essentially, birds seem to do better when private owners manage their properties with an eye toward conservation, and falter when those lands are used less sustainably, as highlighted by many examples in the report. Some of these programs are tied into the federal Farm Bill, which has gotten stuck in Congress. Let’s hope the politicians can get their act together and do what’s good not only for people, but also for the birds.

Written by Meredith Mann
The lowly Red-winged Blackbirds in suburban New York triggered Meredith Mann's interest in birds. Five years later, she's explored some of the the USA's coolest hotspots, from Plum Island in Massachusetts to the Magic Hedge in Chicago to the deserts of Fallon, Nevada. She recently migrated from the Windy City (where she proudly served as a Chicago Bird Collision Monitor, rescuing migrants from skyscrapers and sidewalks) to Philadelphia, where she plans to find new editing and writing gigs; keep up her cool-finds chronicle, Blog5B; and discover which cheesesteak really is the best. And she will accept any and all invitations to bird Cape May, NJ.