A huge proportion of Canada’s bird species are in serious decline, threatened by disappearing habitat and climate change, the first comprehensive report on the health of the country’s avian populations has found.
Overall, there’s been a 12 per cent drop in bird populations since 1970, says the 36-page report, entitled The State of Canada’s Birds 2012.
While some species have stayed at relatively stable levels over the last four decades — and some have even taken flight to a point — 44 per cent of Canada’s 460-plus species have fallen in number, 66 of them so dramatically they are considered endangered.
“These declines appear to be largely due to lost habitat — breeding and wintering habitats,” said Charles Francis, chair of the expert panel that penned the report.
But Francis said destruction of wetlands, grasslands and forests that are home to birds of all different feathers are occurring not only within Canada’s borders, but also in countries where a multitude of species rest or overwinter during annual migrations.
At the top of the list of most endangered birds is the spotted owl, whose numbers have dropped to a mere “handful”; the burrowing owl; the whooping crane, which now number over 430 from a low of 15 in 1938; and the great sage grouse, with fewer than 100 males, down from thousands 20 years ago.