Human Activity May Wipe Out One-Third Of North American Birds

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    Flying Black-capped Petrel, Pterodroma hasitata

    More than one-third of North America’s 1,154 native bird species are at high risk of extinction due to climate change and other manmade factors, a new report found.

    Thirty-seven percent of the continent’s bird species across 10 different habitat types need “urgent conservation action,” the North American Bird Conservation Initiative said in its annual “State of the Birds” report released Sunday. Forty-nine percent were identified as having moderate risk, while just 14 percent were marked as low risk.

    Researchers categorized bird species based on their population size, population trends, population distribution and threats to both breeding and non-breeding members of the species.

    The decline of bird species is most pronounced in ocean and tropical forest habitats, where more than half were identified as having a high risk of extinction and are on the organization’s “Watch List.”

    “The outlook for oceanic birds — including seabirds and a group of landbirds found only on islands off the Mexican coast — is the bleakest of any North American bird group,” with 57 percent of species in the “high risk” category, the report found. “Small and declining seabird populations are severely threatened by invasive predators on nesting islands and accidental bycatch by commercial fishing vessels, as well as overfishing of forage fish stocks, pollution, and climate change.”

    Some of the most threatened oceanic species include the Black-capped Petrel, the Fea’s Petrel and the Bermuda Petrel.

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