Bird species are becoming more threatened

Changes in the IUCN Red List for birds show that over the past twenty years the status of the world’s bird species has deteriorated, with more species slipping closer to extinction. This has happened in all major ecosystems, but the changes have not occurred evenly across the world: birds in Oceania and seabirds are substantially more threatened on average and have declined the fastest, while Asian birds show a sharp decline linked to forest destruction.


Key messages and case studies

More bird species are slipping closer to extinction
View case study list

Analysis of the changes in threat status of the world’s birds in the past two decades shows that, despite the conservation efforts of governments and non-governmental organisations across the world, birds as a group are becoming more threatened. Some species have improved in status during 1988–2008, but many more have deteriorated (The status of the world’s birds has deteriorated over the last 20 years., Most threatened birds are deteriorating in status, Most threatened birds are in decline). Trends for other most other groups of organisms cannot yet be quantified in a similar way, but they are likely to mirror the deterioration shown by birds.

Trends in some regions and habitats are of particular concern
View case study list

Although the threat status of the world’s birds has deteriorated in all major ecosystems (Birds have deteriorated in status in all major ecosystems, particularly marine), these changes have not occurred evenly across the world. A regional breakdown of the Red List Index shows that Asia’s birds have undergone the sharpest declines since 1988. This is largely because of the rapid forest destruction in the lowlands of Borneo and Sumatra through the 1990s (Birds in some regions, notably Oceania and Asia, have deteriorated in status faster than others). Comparisons of different species-groups highlight the more threatened status and faster declines of open-ocean seabirds, linked in particular with the recent expansion of commercial longline fisheries (Birds in some families, notably seabirds, have deteriorated in status faster than others) in addition to pressures at nesting colonies.