North American bird population plummets


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Since 1970, the bird population in North America alone has dropped by almost three billion. 

That is nearly 30 percent of the entire bird population. 

David Bohlen has been an Ornithologist for the state since the downward trend started.

“It wasn’t really shocking,” Bohlen said. “Because I know a lot of the populations numbers for warblers and Drurios and thrushes and birds like that.” 

He spends a lot of time out in the field studying and counting birds around Springfield.

He said his favorite spots around the city keep changing because people alter the ecosystem. 

Species people tend to see the most, like the ones Bohlen mentioned, had the biggest drops in numbers and the problem is widespread.

“One of the biggest ones is change in habitat, and it’s in particular, the intensification of Agriculture,” Doug Stotz, Ecologist at the Illinois Field Museum In Chicago said.

Large areas of farmlands like the ones in the Midwest leave no space for migrating birds.Birds are forced to fly further along their paths and hope to find good places to rest. That’s often the nearest city. 

“The birds are mostly migrating at night, and first thing in the morning, they are looking for a place to settle,” Stotz said. “They are looking for greenspaces. So like Champaign, is an oasis to them.”

The drop in population isn’t noticeable to the average person, but for birdwatchers, it means a lot more work.

“We need to provide places for birds to breed and a place to rest on migration and I don’t know if we are doing that,” Bohlen said.

He hopes to see change– because while Bohlen works as an Ornithologist by trade, watching birds Is also his passion.

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