Where have the wild birds gone? 3 billion fewer than 1970

FILE - This April 14, 2019 file photo shows a western meadowlark in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Commerce City, Colo. According to a study released on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, North America’s skies are lonelier and quieter as nearly 3 billion fewer wild birds soar in the air than in 1970. Some of the most common and recognizable birds are taking the biggest hits, even though they are not near disappearing yet. The population of eastern meadowlarks has shriveled by more than three-quarters with the western meadowlark nearly as hard hit. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

A new study finds there are nearly 3 billion fewer wild birds flying in North American skies than in 1970

WASHINGTON — A comprehensive study shows there are nearly 3 billion fewer wild birds in North America than in 1970.

The new study finds that the bird population in the United States and Canada was probably around 10.1 billion nearly half a century ago and has dropped 29% to about 7.2 billion birds.

Study lead author Kenneth Rosenberg, a Cornell University conservation scientist, says the thinning of the flocks is happening before our eyes but is so slow we don't often notice.

Rosenberg and colleagues projected population data using weather radar, which captures flocks of migrating birds, 13 different bird surveys going back to 1970 and computer modeling to come up with trends for 529 species of birds.

The study is in Thursday's journal Science.

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