BirdLife's species work
BirdLife aims to conserve the diversity and distribution of wild bird species worldwide as an integral part of nature, by preventing extinctions, improving the status of Globally Threatened Birds, and keeping common birds common. Through its Global Species Programme, BirdLife collates and analyses information on all the world’s birds in order to set priorities for action, through species-specific initiatives such as Action Plans, through safeguarding of sites for key species, and through campaigns and policy interventions.
Conserving the world’s birds: key facts and figures
- 1,240 species are considered threatened with extinction and included on the 2009 IUCN Red List. This represents 12.5% of the total of 9,895 extant bird species in the world
- Of the threatened species, 190 species are considered Critically Endangered and are therefore at extremely high risk of extinction in the wild
- An additional 838 species are considered Near Threatened, giving a total of 2,061 species that are urgent priorities for conservation action
- A total of 132 species are documented as having gone Extinct since 1500. A further four species are now Extinct in the Wild and survive only in captive populations. Fifteen species are categorised as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct) or Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct in the Wild) because they are likely to have gone extinct too, but cannot be designated as such until we are certain. Thus, a total of 151 species may have been lost in the last 500 years
- Three species may have gone extinct already this century: Spix's Macaw Cyanopsitta spixii (classified as Critically Endangered: Possibly Extinct in the Wild) in 2000, Hawaiian Crow Corvus hawaiiensis (classified as Extinct in the Wild) in 2002, and Po‘ouli Melamposops phaeosoma (classified as Critically Endangered: Possibly Extinct) in 2004.
- Things are getting worse: the Red List Index shows that the overall threat status (projected extinction risk) of the world’s birds has deteriorated steadily since 1988
- Declines have been particularly severe for birds in the Indo-Malayan realm (owing to deforestation) and for the world’s albatrosses (owing to incidental mortality in longline fisheries)
- Brazil and Indonesia have the highest numbers of Globally Threatened Birds, with 127 and 121 species respectively
- Forest is by far the most important habitat for Globally Threatened Birds, supporting 87% of species. Tropical/subtropical lowland and montane moist forests are the most important forest-types, supporting 43% and 36% of Globally Threatened Birds respectively
- The most important threats to the world’s birds are the spread of agriculture (significantly affecting 73% of bird species) and human use of biological resources, either through direct exploitation (hunting and trapping) of bird populations or from the impacts on bird populations of forest logging (which together affect 71% of birds). These threats are the main drivers behind habitat degradation and conversion which are influencing 95% of Globally Threatened Bird populations
- Invasive species (especially predators) also threaten nearly a third of Globally Threatened Birds
- More detailed analysis on extinctions and on the trends, distribution, habitats, threats and conservation actions underway for the world’s birds can be found in State of the world’s birds.
- To view more detailed information on the world's birds including analyses of their distributions, habitats, threats and status, visit the Data Zone
- Visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums to view and contribute to on-going discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of endangered species.
More detailed analysis on extinctions and on the trends, distribution, habitats, threats and conservation actions underway for the world’s birds can be found in State of the world’s birds.
To view more detailed information on the world's birds including analyses of their distributions, habitats, threats and status, visit the Data Zone
Visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums to view and contribute to on-going discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of endangered species.
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