July 1, 2013 4:18 pm
Updated: August 5, 2013 9:09 am

Gallery: Canada’s birds in peril

In Canada, the endangered Mountain Plover breeds in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, nesting on bare ground. The loss of native short-grass prairie, and degradation from cultivation, urbanisation, over-grazing, is believed to be a factor in large the decrease of their abundance.

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TORONTO — One in eight bird species worldwide face the threat of extinction, according to a recent report by Birdlife Canada.

Common species such as the barn swallow are disappearing at an alarming rate, with 80 to 90 per cent of the population wiped out in last 20 years.

In Canada, populations of grassland birds are in steep decline, dropping by a third according to the report. Arctic shorebirds and insectivores, like swallows and martens are also dwindling in Canada with the main culprits being agriculture, development, and climate change.

Gallery: Canada’s endangered birds

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Canada’s bird population has dropped about 12 per cent since 1970. While some progress has been made in restoring bird of prey and waterfowl populations in Canada, the report indicates that more populations are declining than increasing.

“We’re worried about birds for their own sake. But they’re also really good indicators for environment more broadly,” said Stuart Butchart, Birdlife International’s chief scientist.

The Eskimo curlew, a migratory tundra species hunted into oblivion, hasn’t been seen in the wild for 49 years. Once that clock hits 50 years, the bird will be declared extinct.

Canadian reporter and naturalist Fred Bodsworth wrote The Last of Curlews in 1954, a fictionalized account of the life of the last Eskimo Curlew. Bodsworth’s novel was made into the very first afterschool special in 1972 for ABC.

-with files from the Associated Press

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