Scientists Determined How Many Wild Birds Populate Earth

In one of the biggest data studies of its kind, scientists have given an actual number of how many wild birds there are on earth.

Have any guesses?

In the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers determined that there are around 50 billion wild birds on earth at any given time.

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Of course, no one actually counted the individual wild birds to come out with that number. Instead, they analyzed bird sighting data on eBird, the world’s largest birding community. The eBird database had over a billion observations posted from over 600,000 “citizen scientists.”

Researchers used the eBird data to determine the global population of 9,700 different bird species (approximately 92% of all living bird species).

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In a press release, a co-senior author of the study, Will Cornwell, said, “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.”

Based on their findings, there are an estimated 50 billion wild birds in the world, which is about six birds for every one human. However, they did want to stress the fact that the 50 billion number is just an estimate.

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In the press release, co-author Shinichi Nakagawa said, “Our findings, while rough in some areas, represent the best-available data we currently have for many species.”

During their research, they discovered that four different bird species have populations of over a billion, which include the House Sparrow, the European Starling, the Ring-billed Gull, and the Barn Swallow.

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The researchers plan to continue studying the bird populations to learn more about the numbers and biodiversity.

“We will need to repeat and refine this effort to really keep tabs on biodiversity-especially as human-caused changes to the world continue and intensify,” lead study author Corey Callaghan said in the release.

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