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Posted by feww on October 10, 2008

Numbers of birds worldwide are dwindling

Numbers of birds worldwide are dwindling, Birdlife International reported on Thursday, a telltale sign that Governments have failed to slow damage to nature by 2010, contrary to their 2002 undertaking [so what’s new?]

Hawaiian Crow (Corvus hawaiiensis). Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

“Since the year 1500, we have lost over 150 bird species – an extinction rate far higher than the natural background. Today, one in eight bird species is threatened with global extinction, with 190 species Critically Endangered, and Red List assessments show that things are getting worse. Particularly alarming are sharp declines in many formerly common and widespread species. This is a signal of wider environmental problems, and of the erosion of biodiversity as a whole.” Birdlife International

Three species are believed to have become extinct since 2000, the report says:

  • The Hawaiian crow
  • Spix’s macaw in Brazil
  • Poo-uli [also in Hawaii]

The critically endangered bird species include:

  • 83 percent of albatrosses
  • 60 percent of cranes
  • 28 percent of parrots
  • 24 percent of pheasants
  • 20 percent of pigeons

Po`o-uli (Melamprosops phaeosoma)
Source: USWFS/ Paul E. Baker

One of the most vital services provided by birds is controlling the populations of insect pests in farmland and forests. “Studies show that birds provide biological control services worth millions of dollars in farmlands and forests, and are encouraged in some plantations through the provision of nest-boxes.”

Indeed the use of nest-boxes not only for flycatchers but also for titmice is a fairly standard management tool in forests throughout Europe.

“Birds are a good indicator for the wider environment because we have such long records. People notice that there aren’t so many birds around, even ones that are common.” Alison Stattersfield, Birdlife International.

The Spix’s Macaw (Ara Spixii)
. The Dream: A photo montage of the last known Spix’s Macaw nest, located on the Gangorra Farm, and two Spix’s Macaws now residents of the captive breeding program at Lymington Foundation. Source: Spix’s Macaw Project

Numerous bird species have been driven extinct

Key messages and case studies

State of the world’s birds is a good report well worth browsing through!

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