Ever Wondered How Many Birds There Are in the World?
If you’re reading this, you likely love birds. Have you ever wondered how many birds exist on our wonderful blue planet? The answer may surprise you. Let’s take a look.
How Do You Count Birds?
This might seem easy from a backyard standpoint. You can count the number of robins hopping around your yard daily. How many are hidden and out of sight? If you have a hummingbird feeder, counting them can be difficult.
Counting the number of birds in a flock can take time and effort. One method involves taking photographs of birds sitting in trees. The photos are then divided into small sections. Birds in each area are counted. This allows for the entire flock to be estimated. Flocks of more than tens of thousands of birds have been calculated with this method.
But what about determining the number of birds in the world? While it certainly isn’t an exact science, it does involve a lot of science. Information from crowd-sourced reporting databases is combined with data analytics and algorithms to create an estimate.
How Many Species of Birds Are in the World?
While counting the number of total birds is quite complicated, counting the number of bird species should be easier, right? That is undoubtedly true. However, there are still some difficulties in getting an exact count.
Despite this, the most generally accepted count is that there are 10,906 species of birds in the world. This number may need to be corrected for three reasons. First, there are likely some bird species that have not been discovered yet, particularly in areas that aren’t inhabited or explored.
Additionally, there is some disagreement. Some bird species could be subdivided into a few different species, depending on your stance. Finally, it is estimated that a few hundred recognized species may be extinct as they have not been spotted in the wild in some time. However, this presents a good starting point for answering the question.
How Many Birds Are There in the World?
When it comes to individual birds, how many exist? The most extensive recent effort to estimate the number took place in 2021. This project paired actual observations with analytics to assess the unobserved or undocumented birds.
The result was an estimation of 50 billion total birds in the world. In other words, there would be roughly six birds for every human. This study was designed to be conservative in its count by nature. Thus, this should be considered more of a minimum floor for the actual number.
In fact, other studies have typically estimated between 50 billion and 400 billion birds worldwide. For example, a study in 1997 put the figure somewhere between 200 and 400 billion. At the high end, this would leave 50 birds for every human on earth.
Which Bird Species Has the Largest Population?
With over 50 billion birds worldwide, you may wonder what species accounts for the largest proportion of this figure. This is also a question that has been answered. You might be fascinated to learn that the most common bird is the domestic chicken, with roughly 22 billion. This is not surprising given that they are used in agriculture.
However, the most populous wild bird is the red-billed quelea, a species found throughout sub-Saharan Africa. They have a population of roughly 1.5 billion. In fact, these birds travel in groups so large that they can appear like a cloud, casting shade as they pass across the terrain.
The next most common birds are the mourning dove (475 million), American robin (310 million), and common pheasant (160 million). You can see a list of the top ten here.
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