Bird conservation

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The extinction of the dusky seaside sparrow was caused by habitat loss.

Bird conservation is a field in the science of

captive populations
for reintroductions.


List of extinct birds

Threats to birds

Habitat loss

The most critical threat facing threatened birds is the

Island biogeography).[7] The loss of tropical rainforest is the most pressing problem, as these forests hold the highest number of species yet are being destroyed quickly. Habitat loss has been implicated in a number of extinctions, including the ivory-billed woodpecker (disputed because of "rediscovery"), Bachman's warbler and the dusky seaside sparrow

Introduced species

Arctic foxes introduced to the Aleutian Islands devastated populations of auks; here a least auklet has been taken.

Historically the threat posed by


Hunting and exploitation

Humans have exploited birds for a very long time, and sometimes this exploitation has resulted in extinction. Overhunting occurred in some instances with a naive species unfamiliar with humans, such as the moa of New Zealand,[10] in other cases it was an industrial level of hunting that led to extinction. The passenger pigeon was once the most numerous species of bird alive (possibly ever), overhunting reduced a species that once numbered in the billions to extinction.[11] Hunting pressure can be for food, sport, feathers, or even come from scientists collecting museum specimens. Collection of great auks for museums pushed the already rare species to extinction.

The harvesting of parrots for the pet trade has led to many species becoming endangered. Between 1986 and 1988 two million parrots were legally imported into the US alone. Parrots are also illegally smuggled between countries, and rarer species can command high prices.


Hybridisation may also endanger birds, damaging the gene stock. For example, the American black duck has been often reported hybridising with the mallard, starting a slow decline.

Gamebird hybrids are particularly common and many breeders produce hybrids that may be accidentally or intentionally introduced into the wild.

Other threats

This black-browed albatross has been hooked on a long-line.

Birds face a number of other threats.

nocturnal seabirds such as petrels.[14] The pesticide DDT was responsible for thinning egg shells in nesting birds, particularly seabirds and birds of prey that are high on the food chain.[15] The use of pesticides continues to harm birds, especially insectivores like swallows that have lost a food source from the use of insecticides in agriculture.[16] A particularly dangerous class of pesticides is the seed-coating neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids include a neurotoxin that bioaccumulates in the tissue of birds and is associated with impairment of reproduction.[16]

Seabirds face another threat in the form of

long-line fisheries. As many as 100,000 albatrosses are hooked and drown each year on tuna lines set out by long-line fisheries.[17]

Birds are also

natural gas flaring can attract and kill large numbers of birds. Approximately 7,500 migrating songbirds were attracted to and killed by the flare at the liquefied natural gas terminal in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada on September 13, 2013.[20] Similar incidents have occurred at flares on offshore oil and gas installations.[21]

The recent growth in the renewable energy industry is also increasing the threat to birds farther away from dense human population centers. As of late 2019, the capacity of

photovoltaic collectors which are mounted near the ground – is from extensive land clearing and increases in long-distance power transmission infrastructure. In 2015, biologists working for the state of California estimated that 3,500 birds died at the Ivanpah concentrated solar power demonstration plant in the span of a year; "many of them burned alive while flying near the tower collector where air temperatures reached up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit."[24]

Conservation techniques

Scientists and conservation professionals have developed a number of techniques to protect bird species. These techniques have had varying levels of success.

Captive breeding

Captive breeding, or ex-situ conservation, has been used in a number of instances to save species from extinction. The principle is to create a viable population of a species in either zoos or breeding facilities, for later reintroduction back into the wild. As such a captive population can either serve as an insurance against the species going extinct in the wild or as a last-ditch effort in situations where conservation in the wild is impossible. Captive breeding has been used to save several species from extinction, the most famous example being the California condor, a species that declined to less than thirty birds. In order to save the California condor the decision was made to take every individual left in the wild into captivity. From these 22 individuals a breeding programme began that brought the numbers up to 273 by 2005. An even more impressive recovery was that of the Mauritius kestrel, which by 1974 had dropped to only four individuals, yet by 2006 the population was 800.[25]

Reintroduction and translocations

Reintroductions of captive bred populations can occur to replenish wild populations of an endangered species, to create new populations or to restore a species after it has become extinct in the wild. Reintroductions helped bring the wild populations of

Bali starling into the wild failed due to continued poaching of reintroduced birds.[26]

The introduction of captives of unknown pedigree can pose a threat to native populations. Domestic fowl have threatened endemic species such as Gallus g. bankiva while pheasants such as the ring-necked pheasant and captive cheer pheasants of uncertain origin have escaped into the wild or have been intentionally introduced. Green peafowl of similar mixed origins confiscated from local bird dealers have been released into areas with native wild birds.[27]

Bird conservation area, Green Lakes State Park, Manlius, New York

Translocations involve moving populations of threatened species into areas of suitable habitat currently unused by the species. There are several reasons for doing this; the creation of secondary populations that act as an insurance against disaster, or in many cases threats faced by the original population in its current location. One famous translocation was of the kākāpō of New Zealand. These large flightless parrots were unable to cope with introduced predators in their remaining habitat on Stewart Island, so were moved to smaller offshore islands that had been cleared of predators. From there a recovery programme has managed to maintain and eventually increase their numbers.

Habitat protection

As the

logging companies who claimed it would cause job losses and reduced profits.[28]

See also


  1. .
  2. ^ "Worldwatch Paper #165: Winged Messengers: The Decline of Birds". Worldwatch Institute. Archived from the original on 2006-07-17. Retrieved 2006-07-21.
  3. ^ "Help Migratory Birds Reach Their Destinations". Archived from the original on 2006-06-30. Retrieved 2006-07-21.
  4. .
  5. ^ "Protect Backyard Birds and Wildlife: Keep Pet Cats Indoors". Archived from the original on 2006-10-04. Retrieved 2006-07-21.
  6. .
  7. ^ Blumstein, D., Daniel, J. (2005). "The loss of anti-predator behaviour following isolation on islands." Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences 272: 1663–1668.
  8. ^ Atkinson, C., Dusek, R., Woods, K., Iko, W. (2000). "Pathogenicity of avian malaria in experimentally-infected Hawaii Amakihi." Journal of Wildlife Diseases 36(2):197–204.
  9. ^ Holdaway, R., Jacomb, C. (2000). "Rapid Extinction of the Moas (Aves: Dinornithiformes): Model, Test, and Implications." Science 287(5461): 2250 – 2254.
  10. .
  11. PMID 26324886.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link
  12. ^ Dunnet, G., Crisp, D., Conan, G., Bourne, W. (1982). "Oil Pollution and Seabird Populations [and Discussion]." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. B 297(1087): 413–427.
  13. ^ Le Correa, M., Ollivier, A., Ribesc S., Jouventin, P., (2002). "Light-induced mortality of petrels: a 4-year study from Réunion Island (Indian Ocean)." Biological Conservation 105: 93–102 [1].
  14. ^ Grier, W., (1982). "Ban of DDT and subsequent recovery of Reproduction in bald eagles." Science 218(4578): 1232–1235.
  15. ^ .
  16. ^ Brothers NP. 1991. "Albatross mortality and associated bait loss in the Japanese longline fishery in the southern ocean." Biological Conservation 55: 255–268.
  17. ^ Klem Jr., Daniel (1990). "Collisions between birds and windows: mortality and prevention" (PDF). Journal of Field Ornithology. 61 (l): 120–128. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-07-14.
  18. ^ "Top 13 Killers". Fatal Light Awareness Program. Retrieved 2009-05-06.
  19. ^ 7,500 songbirds killed at Canaport gas plant in Saint John (online CBC News, September 17, 2013).
  20. ^ Seabirds at Risk around Offshore Oil Platforms in the North-west Atlantic, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Vol. 42, No. 12, pp. 1,285–1,290, 2001.
  21. ^ Karl-Erik Stromsta (31 October 2013). "US Cracks 100GW of Wind as Post-Subsidy Era Looms". Green Tech Media.
  22. ^ "Wind Turbine Interactions with Birds, Bats, and their Habitats:A Summary of Research Results and Priority Questions" (PDF). National Wind Coordinating Collaborative. 31 March 2010.
  23. ^ Sweet, Cassandra (12 June 2015). "High-Tech Solar Projects Fail to Deliver". The Wall Street Journal. In April, biologists working for the state estimated that 3,500 birds died at Ivanpah in the span of a year, many of them burned alive while flying through a part of the solar installment where air temperatures can reach 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
  24. ^ a b Jones, C.G.; Heck, W.; Lewis, R.E.; Mungroo, Y.; Slade, G.; Cade, T. (1995). " The restoration of the Mauritius kestrel Falco punctatus population." Ibis 137(Suppl.1): 173–180.
  25. ^ Putra, M. & Prins, H. (2000). "Status and distribution of the endemic Bali starling Leucopsar rothschildi." Oryx 34(3): 188–197.
  26. .
  27. ^ Simberloff, D. (1987). "The Spotted Owl Fracas: Mixing Academic, Applied, and Political Ecology" Ecology 68(4): 766–772.

External links