Reasons why we have lost 3 billion birds in North America since 1970

North America is mostly situated in the Northern Hemisphere. It covers 24.71 million km2 of land. North America’s birds are vanishing from its sky and nobody has been able to figure out why. 

It has lost 3 billion birds since 1970 which is approximately 30% of the total bird population. Scientists fear that the vanishing of these birds may result in their extinction. 

Here are some of the reasons why this might be happening:

Chaos in the ecosystem

Research shows that the chaos in the ecosystems could have played a vital role in their disappearance. Loss of habitat, food and many other factors could have contributed to the cause. The plant and animal species have been declining from many years so scientists now hope that this staggering number can help raise awareness and bring more public attention.

Scientists have been keeping track of rare, endangered and threatened species for a long time and realized that some populations were declining. They assumed that the common species were making up for the lost populations or better birds who were stronger and more easily adaptable to the environment. 

All species are disappearing

What the research showed was that it wasn’t only the endangered species who were disappearing but all species in general. Grassland birds suffered the most with the loss of 700 million birds from 30 species since 1970. 

Human activity is the main reason

One of the major causes that species are disappearing is due to human activity. Man is showing no mercy when it comes to bird kin, shelters or food. Increase of usage of pesticides, such as neonicotinoids which lowers their chances of survival and reproduction, and land being used for agriculture also play important roles in this loss. However, not all species declined, some witnessed growth too but the overall trend over the years shows decline and that’s what needs to be brought into consideration. 

Birds are migrating

Scientists have used supercomputers to examine data from a weather radar which has been recording biomass of birds passing overhead at night when they are usually migrating from one place to another for the past 10 years and the results showed persistent decline.

Birds appear as blobs on radars. Data from 143 radar stations showing blobs was converted to biomass and between 2007 and 2017, the biomass declined by 17%.  On a lighter note, wetland has not been this unfortunate. In fact, bird populations in wetland were actually on a rise. This is believed to be the outcome of the billion dollar investments for its protection and restoration. This teaches us that it is not necessary for the decline to continue, if proper efforts and investments are made, ecosystems of the unfortunate side of North America can also be restored to welcome more species of birds again.


Fear not, for several groups of coalition conservation groups have decided to follow an action plan for general public to implement and protect these birds that are in North America. The decline of every bird cannot be stopped, however if not all some can still be saved. Keeping your pets indoors, planting more trees, keeping your environment clean and many such things can & will definitely play a vital role in birds’ survival in our state. 



Disclaimer: This content does not necessarily represent the views of IWB.


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