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Flight to extinction: North American birds are vanishing

The spring has never been more silent and the skies never so devoid of these small mercies. That familiar chirp and coo might as well be a swansong. Researchers have confirmed that the number of birds in the US and Canada has fallen by 29 percent since 1970, a loss of nearly 3 billion birds in the North America continent. The decline threatens not only rare species, but common backyard birds such as American robins and house sparrows, who are slowly making their way towards the exit, too. Over 500 species in North America were surveyed for the study published in the journal Science. The colossal loss of avian populations is squarely attributed to habitat loss, mechanized agriculture and wider use of pesticides. Birds’ vital roles go beyond their vast array of shapes and sounds. They control pests, pollinate plants, spread seeds and transform the entire landscape. Seabirds, in particular, fertilize marine ecosystems and keep coral reefs alive. The dwindling abundance is only part of the danger. It’s more insidious that people never notice birds are shrinking at such an exceptional rate, and thus do not act upon it. The research may well be an alert, but still, it could be too late to realize that we need the birds more than they need us.
  1. How many birds can you name?
  2. How many birds can't fly?
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