Our Declining Bird Population

01By DAVID WALL

We’ve all been made aware of our declining bee population. While this is extremely serious, there’s something more to consider. In the last 50 years, our continent has lost anywhere from 29% to 30% of our bird population. Forty percent of the world’s bird population is in decline. 74% of the 1,469 bird species are at risk of extinction.

Fifty years may seem like a long time, but for those of us a bit older, that only goes as far back as 1970. A quarter of the population amounts to approximately 3 billion birds. Today, roughly one in eight bird species is threatened with global extinction.

Ironically, the loss isn’t anywhere near spread out among all the species. Rather, it seems that over 90% of the loss is limited to a dozen families, including meadowlarks, dark-eyed juncos, horned larks and red-winged blackbirds. Grassland birds have undergone a 53% decrease in population. Ironically, some species are actually increasing their population. While it’s hard to be sorry about decreased populations regarding blue jays and grackles, we enjoy having duck and goose populations are at an all-time high.

Habitat regeneration probably holds the key to slowing or stopping other population declines. Its biggest problem is overcoming urbanization, which annually continues to take huge amounts of land, especially grasslands and forests.

A third problem involves pesticide use. These kill birds, but are better known for a major cause in the honeybee decline. Then, one must include cats which kill huge numbers of birds every year. Add to all this electricity generating windmills and power lines.

Finally, there’s the one real biggie that nobody wants to talk about or admit is a problem: climate change or global warming.

Humans are the ultimate cause of the current decline. Will they correct it?


David Wall has a bachelor’s degree in forestry and a master’s degree in business management, which includes 269 college semester hours total with roughly 125 hours in earth science. After several years as the volunteer vegetable garden manager for NTCC, he retired and currently works as a gardening activist who writes a weekly column and lectures throughout northeast Texas and southeast Oklahoma regarding soil health, plant intelligence, the dangers of GMO and global warming. He is a member of several major agriculture organizations.

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