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Nov 15, 2014

Will birdwatchers become extinct?

Brilliant Turtle Dove photo by Zahoor Salmi/
The number of wild birds on British farmlands has fallen 52% overall in the past 40 years, with Turtle Doves in danger of disappearing.   Turtle Doves are now the most threatened farmland bird in Britain and are in danger of being wiped from the landscape entirely.   Their numbers are down 80% over the last four decades.   Also down 80% since 1970 are Grey Partridges, Starlings, Tree Sparrows and Corn Buntings.   In the same 40-year period, the number of Nightingales, Wood Warblers and Willow Tits are down 70%.   Arctic Skuas are down 50% and Kittiwakes down 34%.   Many other species show the same alarming declines.   Yes, many species are increasing but they are gravely outmatched by the decliners.   The basis for these numbers is the latest UK Wild Bird Indicators, published on Wednesday of this week by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and the British Trust of Ornithology.   This is not really new news.   This kind of story is prevalent around the world, including here in my homeland of Canada.   The subject of bird species extinction is on millions of lips.   It hit me today for the first time that if all birds become extinct what would birdwatchers watch?   Will birdwatchers become extinct also?   Fanciful to be sure and quite gloomy, but food for thought.

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