There are about 50 billion individual birds in the world, according to new research that uses citizen science observations to try to estimate population numbers for almost 10,000 species. The paper, led by scientists at the University of New South Wales, suggests there are about six times as many birds on the planet as humans – but that many individual species are very rare. Four species belong to what the researchers dubbed “the billion club”, with estimated populations greater than 1 billion. They are the house sparrow, found in many parts of the world, the European starling, the ring-billed gull and the barn swallow. The researchers developed estimates for 9,700 species, including penguins, emus and the kookaburra, by drawing on hundreds of millions of bird observations logged by birdwatchers on eBird , one of the world’s largest biodiversity citizen science projects. They pooled the records with professional scientific observations to develop an algorithm that would estimate the population numbers for almost all species. The team of scientists found there were relatively few common bird species, but a large number of rare species. “They may be rare for natural reasons – they really only live on one island or the […]


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