1.08.2008

Bird Math

One more post about The World Without Us. Weisman devotes a full chapter to how man is impacting bird populations. The numbers are so astonishingly bad that one begins to wonder how any birds have made it to 2008:
  • Nearly 500 million birds die each year colliding with radio towers (2,500 per tower x 175,000 towers) - they're drawn toward the red lights in bad weather
  • 60-80 million birds in US lose it to windshields and radiator grilles.
  • 1 billion birds in US break their necks against plate glass windows (including mine)
  • 219 million birds in just Wisconsin are caught by the common house cat (U.S. number likely in the billions)
  • 120 million game birds per year are taken in the U.S. by hunting
  • Power lines: who knows? Some get zapped, but many more collide with them.
  • ...and he doesn't even mention wind farms or airplanes or habitat loss.
Weisman says there are about 20 billion total birds in North America. If I add up the above numbers, we're talking about 1.6 billion kills each year, about 8% of the total bird population. Can that be possible? Especially when he notes that of the more than 10,000 modern-day bird species, "only" 130 have disappeared, less than 1 percent. How is that possible?

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