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article imageCanada and US lose 3 billion birds in fifty years

By Tim Sandle     Sep 19, 2019 in Environment
Bird populations in both U.S. and Canada are down by some 3 billion over a 50 year period, according to new research. Human activity appears to be the main reason for the population decline.
The decline in bird populations is confirmed by an independent scientific study and these are sufficient to trigger alarm. The first review indicates there are there are three billion fewer birds in the U.S. and Canada now as compared to 1970. This represents a decline of 29 percent of North America's birds. In total, 529 bird species were tracked.
The pan-North American study shows birds being lost across every type of habitat: grasslands to coasts to deserts. A common cause across each environment is habitat loss driven by human activity, as The New York Times reports. Supporting data for the habitat loss comes from a continent-wide weather radar network analysis that shows a steep decline in biomass passage of migrating birds over the more recent 10-year period.
According to lead researcher Ken Rosenberg, the results are very significant and very concerning: "We were astounded by this result … the loss of billions of birds."
He adds: "It’s a strong signal that our human-altered landscapes are losing their ability to support birdlife...And that is an indicator of a coming collapse of the overall environment."
The research has been published in the journal Science, with the research paper titled "Decline of the North American avifauna."
A second study also sounds an alarm about bird population in Asia, which is due to "the Asian songbird crisis". Taking one example, in Java, Indonesia, more birds may now live in cages than in the wild. The pattern is a direct consequence of the buying and selling of songbirds.
Harry Marshall, lead researcher on this study, tells the BBC: "The trade is estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars to the Indonesian economy, so it is no surprise that it is a key regional source of both supply and demand for songbirds, with hundreds of markets running across the archipelago, selling more than 200 different species."
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