03/16/2015 05:00 EDT | Updated 05/15/2015 05:59 EDT

'Bird nursery' at risk unless half of Canada's boreal forest preserved

- National Audubon Society.

- Bird Studies Canada.

- Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

- Nature Canada.

- Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

- Environment for the Americas.

- Wild Bird Centers of America.

- Nature Needs Half.

- Birdzilla. 

1 in 5 Canadians are birders

After the nesting season, these boreal birds and their young make up the majority of the birds that migrate to the U.S. and Central and South America during the winter

"We estimate that three to five billion birds leave Canada in the fall, so you imagine this incredible wave of birds that pass south to spend the winter. And so they do become the common birds of backyards and wetlands. They are the familiar birds that many people see," Wells said.

But many of these songbirds are on the decline or already considered endangered. Scientists say that protecting their habitat is the only effective way to save them from disappearing further.

The Boreal Birds Need Half campaign is counting on the fact that birding is an increasingly popular pastime. Nearly one in five adult Canadians and nearly 50 million Americans consider themselves birders.

The plan is to collect support from industry and petitions from the public to push politicians to consider the boreal forest as a valuable asset for bird survival.

"We hope that governments will adopt land conservation policies that reflect science," Wells said. 

Balancing resource development 

North America’s boreal forest – by the numbers

485 million: hectares of intact forest

80: percentage of forest still relatively intact

25: percentage of world’s remaining intact forest landscape

#1: Canada's rank among all countries in terms of its supply of surface freshwater 

208 billion: tonnes of carbon stored in Canada’s boreal alone

3 billion-5 billion: number of breeding birds and young

325: number of bird species

80: percentage of North American waterfowl species that breed in the boreal forest

96: number of species with over 50 percent of the population breeding in the boreal forest

1 billion: boreal-breeding birds that winter in the U.S.

50+ million: birders in Canada and the U.S.

Source: Boreal Birds Need Half