How Spain Lost Millions of Common Birds During the Past Two Decades


Over the past two decades, nearly 64.5 million birds have disappeared in Spain due to rapid loss of habitat, SEO/BirdLife Spain reports.

The findings, published earlier this month, were based off data collected by more than 1,000 citizen scientists from SACRE, the Spanish chapter of the European Breeding Bird Survey, between 1996 and 2015. The volunteers visited a local spot twice every spring and logged all the birds they saw and heard. In total, observations were inputted from 20,000 stations, Juan Carlos del Moral, research and monitoring coordinator at SEO/BirdLife Spain, says.

Farmland birds posted the biggest losses, but city birds didn’t come away unscathed either. Between 1998 and 2005, common rural birds declined by 23 percent, while common urban birds diminished by 18 percent.

“One of our main concerns is that these are the two most human-intervened types of environments for birds. In fact, our data suggests that while farmland and urban birds decline, populations that live in the forests grow. We believe this just simply means they are trying to escape worsening habitat conditions,” says del Moral.

The report points a finger at the industrialization of agriculture, substantial increases in monocultures, the use of pesticides for farming, and several types of urban contamination. In general, populations of 39 species dwindled during the study period. The Little Bustard, for example, saw a decline of 71 percent, while others such as the Common QuailGreat Grey Shrike, and Yellowhammers had more than 50 percent of their populations in Spain disappear. SEO is considering adding these four species to the next Spanish Red List of Endangered Species, del Moral says.

read more:
article: Andrea Small
photo: ImageBROKER/Alamy


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