Half of the world’s bird species are in decline as the destruction of bird life intensifies | birds

Nearly half of the planet’s bird species are in decline, according to a final report that paints the darkest picture yet of the destruction of bird life.

The State of the World’s Birds Report, published every four years by BirdLife International, shows that the expansion and intensification of farming is pressing 73% of species. Other major threats include deforestation, invasive species, natural resource exploitation and climate breakdown.

Globally, 49% of bird species are declining, one in eight is threatened with extinction, and at least 187 species have been confirmed or suspected of extinction since 1500. Most of these were endemic to the islands, although there are Birds are now becoming extinct over larger land areas, particularly in the tropics. In Ethiopia, for example, the conversion of grasslands to agricultural land has led to an 80% reduction in the endemic libyan lark since 2007. Only 6% of bird species are increasing globally.

Bird numbers are declining around the world.
Bird numbers are declining around the world. Photography: BirdLife International and Dogeatcog

Since 1970, 2.9 billion individual birds (29% of the total) have been destroyed in North America. Image just dim In other parts of the world – since 1980, 600 million Birds (19%) were destroyed in Europe, with previously abundant species such as the snipe and the rapid rook common to those sliding toward extinction. Europe birds in farmland The most significant decreases showed: 57% disappeared as a result of increased mechanization, use of chemicals, and conversion of land to crops. In Australia, 43% of the abundant seabird species declined between 2000 and 2016.

Dr. Stuart Butchart, Chief Scientist at BirdLife International, said: “We have to halt these declines and start on the right path to recovery. Our future, as well as the world’s birds, depends on them. If we continue to dismantle the fabric of life, we will continue to put our futures at risk.”

Three silver-cheeked hornets in a tree
Silver-cheeked hornbill in the western Usambara Mountains near Lushoto, Tanzania. Photography: John Warburton Lee Photography/Science

The report consists of a compendium of other studies, and because birds are the best-studied group on the planet, it gives an idea of ​​the state of nature in general. “Birds are useful for telling us about the state of the planet. What they say is that nature is in poor condition, and a lot of species are in decline,” Butchart said.

Birds are a cornerstone of healthy ecosystems, so their disappearance is likely to have myriad negative effects. cow horns, for example, scatter large seeds in tropical forests; Turkey eagles get rid of organic waste, while seabirds help cycle nutrients between sea and land, keeping coral reefs healthy.

Previous State of the World’s Birds Reportreleased in 2018, found that 40% of bird species worldwide are in decline.

Forest fires feature more prominently in this report than in previous editions, as they have increased and been devastated Habitats that have not been affected before. Researchers have warned that the succession of heat waves, droughts and floods in recent years will lead to widespread species extinctions if they continue, highlighting the importance of addressing the crises of nature and climate at the same time.

The Bahamas inlet is perched on the Bahamas branch.
Bahamas Scaffold. The bird habitat was destroyed when Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas in 2019. Photo: blickwinkel / Alamy

Growing evidence links the health of bird populations to human health. Covid-19 is a warning of what could happen if we continue to destroy the natural world, with 70% of zoonotic diseases originating in wildlife. A highly pathogenic type of avian influenza – as a result of intensive cultivation – has Because of the rapid decline of some bird populations this year. Over 300 outbreaks have been reported in seabird colonies in the UK.

The report comes before COP15 اجتماع meeting in Montreal in December, a once-in-a-decade opportunity to pass new legislation to tackle the biodiversity crisis. Butchart hopes the results will feed into Montreal’s closing statement. “The main action that governments need now is to make sure that a truly ambitious and bold global biodiversity framework is adopted. We must bend that curve, so by 2030 we are on a mission to be nature positive,” he said.

This means increasing the number and quality of protected areas, preserving remaining habitats and restoring those that have been degraded. Preventing illegal killing of birds, managing invasive species, reducing by-catch of fisheries, and preventing overexploitation of natural resources all help.

Secretary bird eats a snake in the grassland.
The secretary bird has been classified as endangered due to the destruction of its habitat in sub-Saharan Africa. Photo: Graham Bourse/BirdLife

The report is not all bleak. According to BirdLife, between 21 and 32 bird species have gone extinct since 1993 without conservation work. cites Create a new sanctuary for seabirds The size of France in the North Atlantic, it is estimated to protect 5 million birds.

Juliet Vickery, chief executive of the British Ornithological Trust, who was not involved in preparing the report, said: “The fact that nearly half of all bird species are declining and one in eight are at risk of extinction reinforces the fact that we are living in a biodiversity crisis. Action at every level, from the local to the global. This carries a strong warning about the health of our natural world.”

birds in trouble

South america harpr eagleReaching 1 meter (3 feet) tall and feeding on monkeys and sloths, it is one of the largest birds of prey in the world. Listed from Near Threatened to Vulnerable in the International Federation of keep The IUCN Red List in 2021 due to a combination of forest loss, hunting, poaching, and collisions with power lines. It’s down 50% in 60 years.

The Secretary bird, a bird of prey from sub-Saharan Africa, went from being vulnerable to being vulnerable in 2020 after habitat degradation caused by burning grasslands and intensive grazing of livestock. Birds are also hunted for the wildlife trade.

The Less fluoricIt is an endemic species of the Indian subcontinent whose males perform ritual jumping to attract the attention of females, and has declined by 90% in 20 years, mainly due to the loss of grassy habitats and predation of their chicks by stray dogs. It is believed that there are less than 1,000 adults left, and they are now critically endangered.

The great vocal abilities of Central America amazon yellow nap It has made it one of the most sought-after parrots in the pet trade. It has fallen by more than 80% in 30 years, mainly due to poaching and the expansion of agriculture, and as of 2022 it is highly vulnerable.

The Bahamas sawdust It was severely damaged by Hurricane Dorian in 2019, especially in Grand Bahama, where 95% of its habitat is believed to have been destroyed. It was listed as critically endangered in 2020.

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