Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

One in Eight Bird Species Threatened With Extinction, Study Finds

Animals
Recently up-listed to 'Vulnerable,' the snowy owl's rapid decline is likely connected to climate change. Wikimedia Commons

A major global assessment of global bird populations paints a grim outlook for our feathered friends.

A new report from BirdLife International finds that 40 percent of the world's 11,000 bird species are in decline, with one in eight bird species now under some threat of extinction.


The State of the World's Birds 2018 report, which took five years to compile, even shows that a number of well-known birds, including the snowy owl, Atlantic puffin and the European turtle-dove, are now at risk of extinction.

The researchers note that the decline in global bird populations has been driven by human activity. According to the report, the expansion and intensification of agriculture impacts 1,091 (74 percent) of globally threatened birds.

For instance—the use of neonicotinoids, a controversial class of neurotoxic insecticides connected to widespread bee population declines—has also been linked to white-crowned sparrows losing a quarter of their body mass and fat stores and impairing their migratory orientation, one study found.

Logging, overexploitation, urbanization, pollution, disturbance and invasive species were also identified as drivers of the world's diminishing bird populations.

"The data are unequivocal. We are undergoing a steady and continuing deterioration in the status of the world's birds," Tris Allinson, BirdLife's Senior Global Science Officer and editor-in-chief of the report, said in a statement. "The threats driving the avian extinction crisis are many and varied, but invariably of humanity's making."

Notably, the report also identified human-induced climate change as one of the most serious long-term threats to birds. The iconic, once-widespread snowy owl—recently up-listed to "Vulnerable" on the International Union of Conservation of Nature Red List—has experienced rapid declines likely due to changes in snowmelt and snow cover affecting the availability and distribution of prey.

Similarly, sea birds such as Atlantic puffin and the black-legged kittiwake—both listed as Vulnerable to extinction—have also seen a depletion of fish due to overfishing and climate change.

As a press release for the report noted, this isn't just bad news for birds, it's also a warning for the planet as a whole: "Because birds are so widespread, being found in nearly every type of ecosystem, and one of the most studied groups of animals, they are excellent indicators of the state of the environment."

There is some good news in the report. Conservation interventions have saved at least 25 bird species threatened with extinction, the researchers found. The red-billed curassow, the pink pigeon of Mauritius and the black-faced spoonbill, which were each listed as Critically Endangered are now down-listed to Endangered.

The report outlines actions and changes to help birds, including restoration of habitats key to birds, eradicating and controlling invasive species and identifying the most vulnerable bird species in order to protect them.

"Although the report provides a sobering update on the state of birds and biodiversity, and of the challenges ahead, it also clearly demonstrates that solutions do exist and that significant, lasting success can be achieved" said Patricia Zurita, BirdLife's CEO.

The State of the World's Birds 2018 report

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A scenic view of West Papua. Reza Fakhrudin / Pexels

By Arkilaus Kladit

My name is Arkilaus Kladit. I'm from the Knasaimos-Tehit tribe in South Sorong Regency, West Papua Province, Indonesia. For decades my tribe has been fighting to protect our forests from outsiders who want to log it or clear it for palm oil. For my people, the forest is our mother and our best friend. Everything we need to survive comes from the forest: food, medicines, building materials, and there are many sacred sites in the forest.

Read More Show Less
Everyone overthinks their lives or options every once in a while. Some people, however, can't stop the wheels and halt their train of thoughts. Peter Griffith / Getty Images

By Farah Aqel

Overthinkers are people who are buried in their own obsessive thoughts. Imagine being in a large maze where each turn leads into an even deeper and knottier tangle of catastrophic, distressing events — that is what it feels like to them when they think about the issues that confront them.

Read More Show Less
A newly developed catalyst would transform carbon dioxide from power plants and other sources into ethanol. DWalker44 / E+ / Getty Images

Researchers at the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have discovered a cheap, efficient way to convert carbon dioxide into liquid fuel, potentially reducing the amount of new carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere.

Read More Show Less
Eureka Sound on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic taken by NASA's Operation IceBridge in 2014. NASA / Michael Studinger / Flickr / CC by 2.0

A 4,000-year-old ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic has collapsed into the sea, leaving Canada without any fully intact ice shelves, Reuters reported. The Milne Ice Shelf lost more than 40 percent of its area in just two days at the end of July, said researchers who monitored its collapse.

Read More Show Less
Teachers and activists attend a protest hosted by Chicago Teachers Union in Chicago, Illinois on Aug. 3, 2020 to demand classroom safety measures as schools debate reopening. KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus cases surging around the U.S. are often carried by kids, raising fears that the reopening of schools will be delayed and calling into question the wisdom of school districts that have reopened already.

Read More Show Less
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern holds up COVID-19 alert levels during a press conference at Parliament on March 21, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. Hagen Hopkins / Getty Images

By Michael Baker, Amanda Kvalsvig and Nick Wilson

On Sunday, New Zealand marked 100 days without community transmission of COVID-19.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Medics with Austin-Travis County EMS transport a nursing home resident with coronavirus symptoms on Aug. 3, 2020 in Austin, Texas. John Moore / Getty Images

The U.S. passed five million coronavirus cases on Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, just 17 days after it hit the four-million case mark.

Read More Show Less