Support Provided ByLearn More
NatureNature

More Than One-Third of North American Birds Face Grave Risk of Extinction

ByAllison EckNOVA NextNOVA Next

Receive emails about upcoming NOVA programs and related content, as well as featured reporting about current events through a science lens.

Birds like the central Mexican black-polled yellowthroat, the California condor, and the Florida scrub-jay could soon be extinct if conservationists don’t take immediate action.

The North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI)—made up of representatives from Canada, the United States, and Mexico—has determined in

Support Provided ByLearn More
a recent report titled “State of North America’s Birds 2016” that 37% of all 1,154 North American bird species require urgent attention, lest they disappear from our catalogue of wildlife neighbors altogether. The study has also revealed that ocean and tropical birds are among the most vulnerable. You can check on the status of all the species that were assessed here .

Here’s David Ljunggren, writing for Reuters:

More than half the species for oceans and tropical forests are on a special watch list because of small and declining populations, limited ranges and severe threats to their habitats.

“The outlook for oceanic birds… is the bleakest of any North American bird group,” said

the report , which blamed invasive predators such as rats and cats on nesting islands as well as overfishing, pollution and climate change.

ancient0murrelet_2048x1152
The ancient murrelet is the only seabird that raises its young entirely at sea. Found throughout the Pacific Northwest, this lovely bird is now at high risk of extinction and has been added to the NABCI’s Watch List.

The NABCI advised that the removal of predators could help save some of these species—as well as the expansion of protected marine areas removing predators, and reduction of the amount of plastic products that wind up in oceans, effectively handcuffing birds and condemning them to death. Last year, a team of scientists found that 90% of seabirds living today have ingested some form of plastic, having mistook it for fish. By 2050, that figure will escalate to 99%.