People, Environment

91% of Migratory Birds Face Extinction

91% of Migratory Birds Face Extinction91% of Migratory Birds Face Extinction

Migrating birds are impressive — one species, the wandering albatross, is known to travel about 16,000 kilometers in a single flight — but they are no match for human development.

Accelerated human development is quickly wiping out areas used by migrating birds, according to a study published Friday in the journal Science.

In a statement published on EurekAlert, researchers said the world needs to band together to save them.

“It won’t matter what we do in Australia or in Europe if these birds are losing their habitat somewhere else—they will still perish,” the study’s co-author, Dr. Richard Fuller, said in the press release.

Fuller and his colleagues found only 9% of the 1,451 bird species studied had enough protected areas along their migration routes to provide adequate spots to rest, eat, and breed.

“This sort of analysis is a wake-up call for us to really do a much better [job of] understanding where birds are,” Peter Marra, head of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, told the LA Times.

The loss of habitat is putting many migrating birds at risk of extinction, which is bad because these birds are important to everything from pollination to pest control.

More than half of migratory bird species have experienced declining numbers in the past three decades.

The problem is the lack of global cooperation in protecting these birds. For example, Germany has protected areas for more than 98% of its migratory bird species, but less than 13% of those species have adequate protection along their entire route, which can span continents and cross oceans.

“We need to work together far more effectively round the world if we want our migratory birds to survive into the future,” Marra said.

He pointed to a need to make all kinds of private urban areas, not just protected habitats in public lands, suitable for migrating birds. That may mean planting native plants or removing predators, such as cats, from the area.