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The Earth is Home to Over 50 Billion Birds, Six Times More Than Humans, Finds Study

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

The study had taken data from more than 6 lakh citizen scientists, who added their sightings to the eBird dataset between 2010 and 2019.

The beautiful birds with their sweet chirpings have always made our mornings refreshing, but do we know how many of these creatures inhabit the Earth. A recent study counted the total bird population in the world to be around 50 billion — almost 6 times more than all of the human residents, who count as 7.8 billion.

The findings were computed by analysing the number of birds for each of the 9,700 known species of avian creatures, including flightless birds like emus and penguins. The data accounts for 92% of the total bird population alive. The study was conducted by the researchers at University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia. “Humans have spent a great deal of effort counting the members of our own species—all 7.8 billion of us. This is the first comprehensive effort to count a suite of other species,” said Professor Will Cornwell, an ecologist at UNSW Science and co-senior author of the study.

Dr Corey Callaghan, the lead author, said this large-scale data integration of birds could act as a blueprint for counting population of other important animals.

The bird species with large numbers crossing the 1 billion mark includes the House Sparrow with 1.6 billion, European Starling with 1.3 billion of its kind, Ring-billed that stands at 1.2 billion and Barn Swallow at 1.1 billion. On the other hand, around 12% of the global bird population has a counting of less than 5000 of its kind. These species are Chinese Crested Tern, Noisy Scrub-bird, and Invisible Rail.

Prof Cornwell said they will be able to tell how these species will fare by doing another census in five or 10 years, and if their population numbers go down, it could be a dangerous situation for the health of our ecosystem.

The findings also indicated a huge decline in the rare bird species of Australia like Black-breasted Buttonquail with just 100 of them now left on Earth. The study had taken data from more than 6 lakh citizen scientists, who added their sightings to the eBird dataset between 2010 and 2019.

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