Human activity to blame for many at-risk bird deaths, study finds
A Peregrine Falcon looks towards a photographer at the home of Julie Collier in Leverett, Mass., Dec. 22, 2014. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP Photo/Daily Hampshire Gazette, Carol Lollis)
Nothing is killing Ontario’s at-risk birds of prey more than contact with the human world, according to a new study.
The University of Guelph study looked at reports of deaths of wild raptors – birds including eagles, peregrine falcons, hawks, owls and others – between 1991 and 2014.
It found that the most common cause of the birds’ death was trauma – often from flying into buildings or colliding with vehicles – followed by starvation.
Nicole Nemeth, a professor of pathobiology at Guelph, says starvation and emancipation deaths often have human causes as well, as human activity changes the environment in which it makes it more difficult for birds to hunt and find shelter.
Combined, trauma and starvation were responsible for more about two-thirds of the deaths analyzed in the study, with trauma alone being the cause of death for 49 per cent of the approximately 1,500 birds.
“Based on these findings, it is apparent that urban expansion into natural areas and other types of anthropogenic landscape alterations are behind many of these deaths,” Nemeth said in a press release.
“We need to be more aware of the fact that these birds are living in our environment, and in some cases that means preserving large natural areas of land where they can thrive.”