25 Apr 2018
It’s a worrying trend: even birds that were once considered common and widespread are now plummeting towards extinction. Some of the species on this list will shock you.
By Jessica Law
It’s not just elusive species on remote, far-flung islands. These are birds that you may have come across countless times in your day-to-day life, or birds whose image is so famous and iconic it’s hard to believe their numbers are dwindling in the wild. But the findings of the recently-released State of the World’s Birds 2018, our flagship publication on the health of global bird populations, present a shocking view.
The main driver of these declines isn’t hard to guess: humans. Here are the birds’ stories.
1. European Turtle-dove
The European Turtle-dove Streptopelia turtur is so familiar in Europe that it even features in the second verse of the wildly popular Christmas carol “The 12 Days of Christmas”. Imagine if we had to change the words of the song to reflect the loss of this much-loved species…
This bird used to be hugely abundant and wide-ranging, migrating to Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East from the Sahel zone of Africa. But thanks to habitat loss and hunting, the species is now declining across its range, especially in Western Europe, and its conservation status has recently been re-classified as Vulnerable to extinction.