Two noteworthy studies have revealed that bird populations are in distress across the United States and Asia. One study finds that bird populations have dropped by roughly three billion in the United States and Canada since 1970. The other indicates a turning point for the Asian songbird predicament in the Indonesian island of Java, where there are now thought to be more birds in cages than there are in the wild.
The North American study
The research done in America shows that a high quantity of birds have disappeared in a variety of habitats – desert, coast, and grassland included. Although the study didn’t point out what exactly was causing the decline in bird populations, the researchers established that one of the primary reasons was habitat destruction due to human activities. Lead researcher Ken Rosenberg (Cornell lab of Ornithology and the American Bird Conservancy) said that the study was the first to analyze the figures on bird populations.
“We knew some species were declining,” said Rosenberg, “but we thought that, while rare birds were disappearing, the more generalist birds – and those better adapted to human landscapes – would be filling in the gaps.”
The study included a collection of bird evaluations across North America over the last 50 years.
“What we saw was this pervasive net loss,” Rosenberg explained. “And we were pretty startled to see that the more common birds, the everyday backyard birds and generalist species, are suffering some of the biggest losses.”
The Asian songbird study
The other study focused on the songbird trade in Asia. Large quantities of songbirds – mostly captured from the wild – are bought and sold in regions throughout Asia, especially on the island of Java, Indonesia. This trade is threatening more and more bird species each year.
Roughly 75 million birds on Java serve as pets. A lot of them are used in bird singing competitions where the birds’ songs are assessed based on their tune, length, and volume. In the largest of the competitions, owners can win up to £40,000.
The head researcher of this study, Harry Marshall, says, “The trade is estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars to the Indonesian economy, so it is no surprise that it is a key regional source of both supply and demand for songbirds, with hundreds of markets running across the archipelago, selling more than 200 different species.”