email a friend
printable version
Overexploitation is a threat to many large and conspicuous bird species

© Ph. Garguil/Gargue Productions

Over one third of all threatened birds are affected by overexploitation by humans for food and trapping for the cagebird trade. These impacts are biased towards large species (for food) and colourful species (as cagebirds). Hence, these threats are particularly severe for certain families, notably parrots, pigeons, and pheasants.


The number of globally threatened birds affected by overexploitation, by family

Only top ten families included; total number of species in each family and % of total number of species affected is given after each family name. Analysis of data held in BirdLife’s World Bird Database (2012).

Some 50 bird species that have become extinct since 1500 (c.40% of the total) have been subject to over-harvesting. In 2012, 507 globally threatened bird species (39%) are affected by overexploitation for human use, primarily through hunting for food and trapping for the cagebird trade. Often these are large and conspicuous species, such as pheasants or large waterbirds. Some families are particularly affected, with more than 10% of their species threatened by overexploitation. Large numbers are at risk in some cases, e.g. 75 species of parrots and 47 species of pigeons and doves (see figure). Other families, notably pheasants, waterfowl, birds of prey and rails, are also heavily hunted, although smaller proportions are affected overall (analysis of data held in BirdLife’s World Bird Database 2012).



Related Case Studies in other sections

Compiled 2004, updated 2008, 2012

Recommended Citation:
BirdLife International (2012) Overexploitation is a threat to many large and conspicuous bird species. Presented as part of the BirdLife State of the world's birds website. Available from: http://birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/162. Checked: 24/07/2014