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Birds occur in all major habitat types, with forest being particularly important

Taman Negara National Park, Malaysia, © Tris Allinson

Birds occur in all major habitat types; some generalist species may utilise several habitats but many specialist species are confined to just one. Forests are by far the most important habitat supporting 76% of all species. Fifty percent of all birds have adapted to live in human modified habitats.


a) The importance of each major habitat type for all bird species

Birds are found across the world in all major habitat types. Although some birds occur in two or more habitats, many specialist species are confined to just one. Grasslands, savanna and inland wetlands are all important habitats for birds, each supporting about 20% of species (see figure a), while shrublands support 40% of birds. Around 46% are found in ‘artificial’ terrestrial habitats; those that have been modified by humans such as agricultural land, but by far the most significant habitat is forest, supporting 76% of all species (analysis of data held in BirdLife’s World Bird Database 2012).

Birds are found in all forest types, from subantarctic woodland to equatorial rainforest (see figure b). The most important types are tropical/subtropical lowland and montane moist forest, which support 51% and 37% of species respectively, with tropical/subtropical dry forest supporting 19% (analysis of data held in BirdLife’s World Bird Database 2012).


b) The importance of each major forest type for all bird species


Related Case Studies in other sections

Compiled 2004, updated 2008, 2012

Recommended Citation:
BirdLife International (2012) Birds occur in all major habitat types, with forest being particularly important. Presented as part of the BirdLife State of the world's birds website. Available from: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/172. Checked: 28/12/2014