Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Planet Earth

What's Killing the Birds?

Billions of birds fall victim to domestic cats every year — but other human activities are also to blame.



Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

North American skies see 10 billion to 20 billion resident or migratory birds each year, but many die because of human activities.

Wind turbines along migratory routes have proven deadly for raptors like the golden eagle, but turbines can’t hold a candle to domestic cats or building collisions. For rare birds like the golden-winged warbler, whose numbers are already dwindling — its global breeding population is an estimated 410,000 — Oklahoma State University avian ecologist Scott Loss warns that even a handful of deaths could threaten the entire population.

These charts show the number of birds killed each year by human activities (left), and the number of birds killed per source per year. Alison Mackey/Discover

2 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In