Few may have noted, but this may well be among the most significant - and potentially alarming - stories of the year.

As KXMB News reports this week the population of wild birds has dropped drastically nationwide.

A new study reveals the national wild bird population has decreased by about three billion in the last fifty years - that's a drop of about thirty percent.

That's the national story, but what about North Dakota?

Game and Fish reports several species of birds are in deep decline in the state, most notably the Western Meadowlark.

Why is this happening? Part of the problem, according to Game and Fish may be a crash in the insect population.

Other dwindling species in the area include the Chestnut-Collared Longspur and the Long Billed Curlew.

Still the meadowlark's fate is particularly concerning. In the words of a Game and Fish spokesperson, “it’s hard to find a Western Meadowlark anymore east of Jamestown…they’re just gone.”

[Sources: AAAS, KXMB-TV]