40 Percent of Bird Populations Are Declining
BirdLife International published a report entitled “State of the World’s Birds.” Their study has found that 40 percent of bird populations are declining, and it is virtually entirely our doing. They have pinned down the main reasons for this decrease in biodiversity to five.
Their report is available online for all to read and learn even more.
In 1700, the amount of the world’s land surface used for agriculture was only 6 percent. Now, it is over 38 percent. This is happening the most in tropical areas right now due to the demand for products that only grow in those regions. The rapid expansion of agriculture leads to habitat destruction, not just for birds, but for the other animals that live there too. There have also been studies showing that pesticides have a negative effect on the bird population.
Deforestation, closely linked to agriculture, also poses a problem for the world’s bird population. About two-thirds of the world’s bird species are found in the tropics, where excessive logging is taking place. Many birds rely on forests and logging deprives them. Selective logging also makes forests more susceptible to devastating fires.
Image Source: Pixabay
3. Invasive Species
Invasive species, whether intentionally introduced to the environment or not, account for the extinction of 112 bird species. That is 70 percent of known extinct bird species! This is especially a problem for birds on remote islands that have to compete for food with the invasive species. Rats, mice, and domestic cats have had the largest effect on the bird population.
The illegal killing of birds and taking their remains is most prevalent in the Mediterranean, northern and central Europe, and the Caucasus. There is also a strong illegal songbird trade in southeast Asia. This overexploitation is a major problem for many birds, bringing some species to the verge of extinction. Some bird species that are prone to exploitation are parrots, pheasants, and pigeons.
5. Climate Change
Due to human activity, specifically the burning of fossil fuels, the Earth’s climates are changing. This is disrupting migration and breeding cycles, as well as relationships between prey, predator, and competitor. A scientific study found that of the 570 bird species examined, 24 percent have already been negatively impacted by climate change. Only 13 percent of those species responded positively, and scientists were uncertain of the reaction of 49 percent.
Other Reasons Bird Populations are Declining
Some of the other threats to the Earth’s bird population include the development of cities, pollution, wildfires, mining, and energy production. This is minimal compared to the above-stated reasons.
Change is Possible
Fortunately, BirdLife International’s study gives hope. Conservation efforts of threatened birds have been successful and targeted population sizes have increased. This has come through restoring habitats for the birds, breeding them in captivity and reintroducing them to the wild, and creating reserves for them. We are the ones to decrease the world’s bird populations and we will be the ones to restore it.
Image Source: Pixabay