Bird conservation is a field in the science of
Threats to birds
The most critical threat facing threatened birds is the
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, 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. 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.
Gamebird hybrids are particularly common and many breeders produce hybrids that may be accidentally or intentionally introduced into the wild.
Birds face a number of other threats.
Seabirds face another threat in the form of
Birds are also
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
Scientists and conservation professionals have developed a number of techniques to protect bird species. These techniques have had varying levels of success.
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.
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
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.
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
- Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats
- Bird Protection Quebec
- BirdLife International
- Bird-skyscraper collisions
- Climate change and birds
- Fundación ProAves
- Hawaiian honeycreeper conservation
- International Convention on the Protection of Birds
- Migratory Bird Treaty
- The Institute for Bird Populations
- Raptor conservation
- Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union
- SOS/BirdLife Slovakia
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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.
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