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Reduce Mortality

3. Reduce Bird Mortality

Although habitat loss is a primary factor in the decline of landbirds, other threats exacerbate the challenges birds face. Reducing human-caused sources of mortality is a critical step in restoring bird populations and ensuring that the spectacle of migration continues across the hemisphere.

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Photo by Manelik Olivera
  Orange-chinned and Orange-fronted parakeet chicks confiscated by PROFEPA, in Oaxaca, in 2002. The capture of parrots for the cage-bird trade has led to nearly all of the Mexican parrot species being of high tri-national concern.
Encourage Alternatives to the Cage-Bird Trade


All Mexican parrot species have suffered population declines from decades of trapping for the cage-bird trade. Many other species are legally trapped in Mexico for the songbird and cage-bird trade, including the three species of toucans, many orioles, and buntings. Creating alternative careers for trappers as local birding guides can have an important positive impact for people whose livelihood depends on these birds, as well as for the birds themselves. In addition, we need to work with communities and landowners to achieve a sustainable harvest of songbirds in Mexico and assess the impact on wild bird populations in light of other threats such as habitat loss. An adaptive harvest model needs to be implemented, with regulated trapping quotas tied to effective monitoring of wild bird populations building on the successful model of waterfowl harvesting under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.

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Turkey Vulture soaring over wind turbines in
the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Wind turbines, while providing green energy,
could cause significant bird mortality if located
in the wrong places.
Photo by Eduardo E. Iñigo-Elias
Reduce Collisions with Windows and Structures


Manmade structures are estimated to kill millions of birds, predominately Neotropical migrating songbirds, each year. Municipal planners, regulators, owners, and citizens can measurably reduce bird deaths by minimizing window kills, implementing bird-friendly lighting of towers and buildings, and protecting birds on power lines.

Wind turbines, transmission lines, and other infrastructure should be sited to minimize impacts to migratory and resident birds, especially avoiding migration corridors and concentration areas. In particular, wind-power development in migration “hot-spots,” such as the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico, needs to be accompanied by rigorous assessment and monitoring that considers the cumulative population impacts to migratory birds.

Minimize Deaths from Pesticides and Cats

Pesticides that result in bird mortality are widely used in agricultural and landscaping applications. We can minimize the use of pesticides by supporting organic agriculture, developing reduced use or lower toxicity alternatives, and developing shared standards for licensed pesticides and application techniques. Free-ranging, domestic cats kill millions of birds annually; this mortality can be greatly reduced by keeping pet cats indoors and removing feral cats and colonies. Find guidelines at www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/cats/index.html.

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