The National Audubon Society declared a "bird emergency" after a study revealed that North America has seen a decline of 2.9 billion birds since the 1970s. This is believed to be a result of a number of environmental factors, though the study didn't specifically look at causes. Habitat degradation, pesticides, and birds flying into windows have all been potential reasons for the premature deaths of our wild birds. As such, Canada's bird population is majorly at risk.

In 1970, there were an estimated 10 billion birds flying around North America, and about 529 different species. Today, that number has dropped to 7.1 billion. That is a 29% decline, and birdwatchers and environmentalists alike are in disbelief. 

"I’m pretty shocked at the decline and I’m worried for the future. If we’ve had that decline over 50 years with the effects of climate change, and the next 50 years — what’s going to happen? We can start seeing extinctions," Hugh Kent of the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory told the Montreal Gazette.

The report, published on Thursday, September 19, says that the "loss of bird abundance signals an urgent need to address threats to avert future avifaunal collapse and associated loss of ecosystem integrity, function and services."

 

CBC News reports that some of the more common birds impacted include sea birds, backyard birds, warblers, finches, sparrows and songbirds, as well as long-distance birds like swallows and sandpipers that come to Canada from the Arctic. 

 

The common house sparrow is the species that has seen the largest decline. Three hundred million house sparrows have disappeared from the skies since 1970. 

Grassland species have also suffered tremendously, with losses of 150 million of these birds, which include savannah sparrows and meadowlarks. 

 

Pesticides also play a role in the declining bird population, specifically because certain pesticides such as neonicotinoids affect the body mass of birds. These pesticides result in significant body fat loss in birds that affect their migration. 

 

"Body fat is extremely important for migratory birds since it determines how far they can fly at a given time," Lucas Berrigan of Bird Studies Canada told CBC. Lack of wildlife conservation is also a factor in the population decline.

Canadians have been protesting the climate crisis as more information becomes known about how the planet and wildlife are suffering at the hands of climate change and human negligence. Canadians have been trying to do their part to raise awareness. Students have been skipping school to protest, and Canadians are participating in the Global Climate Strike

Disclaimer: Cover photo used for illustrative purposes only.


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