It appears that we are headed for a more silent world as slowly and imperceptibly the bird population in North America is decreasing. Even the common sparrows and finches in the backyard feeders no longer come in their droves as more and more species are dying out. And the figures are staggering. North America has lost 2.9 billion, or 29% of its adult birds, and the losses are across all habitats. A billion birds are gone from the forests. Another 720 million of them are gone from the grasslands, another 53% of the total.
A wide-ranging study by scientists from across 7 research organizations in Canada and the US has found that the downslide in the bird population continues to grow. And the data backing up the claims are solid, backed up by decades of careful study.
And the scale of the loss across 300 species of birds covering the whole continent is stunning. The migrating species have been hit the hardest, with a decline of 2.5 billion.
Led by Ken Rosenberg of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the team analyzed the trends in the bird population of 529 species. He said the loss of billions of birds and the total obliteration of species was ‘astounding.’
Bird Population Decline Beyond The Point Of No Return
This the first study to quantify the decline in the bird population in Canada and the US. Rosenberg said that the results of the study go beyond the world of birds. The loss of the birds serves as an indicator that the landscapes of the planet are being altered beyond the point of no return and are no longer capable of supporting many bird species and other wildlife. It is a grim pointer to the imminent total collapse of the whole environment.
The researchers used sophisticated radar images to complement the data they collected from the ground. Migrating birds are easily caught in satellite images, especially migratory ones. The biomass of birds flying over has seen a decline of 14% since 2007, with the eastern parts reporting the steepest decline.
Even birds living among human habitats have reported a steep decline. The urbanization, the breakup of forest cover, and the increased use of pesticides as more land comes under agricultural cover are some of the reasons for the decline in bird population in urban areas.