Over the past 50 years, the conservation movement in North America has famously helped protect some of the most iconic birds from extinction, including bald eagles, wild turkeys, white pelicans, peregrine falcons, Kirtland’s warblers, and California condors. But a new study in the journal Science shows that while those rare birds were recovering, total bird numbers were plummeting, even among some of the most common backyard species.
The researchers found broad population decreases, not just with rare or threatened birds. “We saw that these losses occurred in the common species and across every habitat,” Rosenberg says. “Even birds we were calling generalists that should be well-adapted to human environments were in decline. Starlings and house sparrows, these invasive species that we thought may be taking over, were showing the same declines.