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The Plight of Birds and the Hand of Man in the Sixth Great Extinction

The Plight of Birds and the Hand of Man in the Sixth Great Extinction

Photo by Mark Gillow | CC BY 2.0

As birds become fewer, wildflowers vanish, butterflies disappear, and animals in the wild are threatened, extinction and a grim future haunts.  How often did Rumi write about birdsong … there is a reason.  Nature revives the spirit.

June 5th was World Environment Day.  A UN outreach program hosted by a different country each year, it is designed to draw attention to its environmental challenges and to offer it support.  This year the host country is India and the theme is beating plastic pollution.  But plastics are not just a blight on the landscape, they are in the seas destroying coral and the species it shelters, painfully killing whales and other creatures … including birds.  Yet, it is far from the only cause of bird distress and their sharply declining numbers.  One example comes from the Arctic, where receding ice has taken with it the nutritious cod, which favor cold waters, and has  endangered the black guillemot now forced to feed their chicks on the bony and difficult-to-digest fourhorn sculpin.

When the EU commissioned a State of Nature report, they expected bad news but not quite as dire a result.  Prepared by the European Environment Agency and sourced from EU-wide data, it found one in three bird species threatened and only a little over half secure.  It also drew a bleak picture of European habitats finding over half of those studied to be unfavorable.  Habitat loss, pesticides particularly neonicotinoids, even excessive hunting, notably in southern Europe, are all to blame.

Earlier, a comprehensive study conducted by University of Exeter (UK) professor Richard Inger and colleagues had analyzed avian biomass across 25 countries over 30 years.  Using data from Birdlife International and the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme, they discovered a surprisingly large and troubling decline:  from 1980 to 2009 the estimated total avian population had been reduced by 421 million birds.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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