A Warning for All of Us: Birds of a Feather Are Losing Their Homes

Apr 24, 2023

Nothing announces the arrival of spring better than the chirping voices of birds outside your window. Bird songs seem to signal that the world is carrying on, no matter its problems.  

Yet birds can also remind us that not all is right with the world. Bird populations across Europe and North America have been declining for decades, a new study shows. The UK has lost 40 million birds since 1970. All of Europe has lost 600 million since 1980.   

In the US, the number of birds has fallen by almost a third since 1970. That amounts to 3 billion fewer birds. A 2022 report by more than 30 science and conservation groups found that more than half of the 259 bird species studied across the US are in decline.

The reasons for this trend vary for each bird species. But the biggest overall cause is habitat loss. As human populations grow, birds and other animals lose their natural homes. That's because bird habitats, like forests or prairies, are replaced with living spaces for humans. Climate change and the increase in house cats who eat birds also are factors, experts said.  

Experts warn that humans need to learn from our feathered friends. They claim we are forever changing Earth's ecosystem.

English author Mark Cocker wrote in The Guardian, “If birds are in trouble, then we can be absolutely sure that the rest of the system is in crisis too.”

Photo from Unsplash courtesy of Boris Smokrovic.

According to paragraph four in the story, what effect does human population growth have on bird populations? (Common Core RI.5.1; RI.6.1)
a. Human population growth causes habitat loss for birds.
b. Human population growth has no effect on bird populations.
c. Human population growth leads to an increase in bird populations.
d. Human population growth causes birds to go extinct.
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