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The Most Abundant Birds in North America

It’s not the starling!
© Andrew Atzert View Large

By August, most birds in North America have finished nesting, bringing legions of new birds into the world. These Mourning Doves, which prosper in many environments, are among the most abundant birds on the continent. Their population is estimated at 350 million! In second place is the American Robin, with 320 million birds. Robins love what we love: a bit of lawn and some shade trees. And although European Starlings seem to be everywhere, their numbers are estimated at 200 million.

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Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®  

Most Abundant Bird on the Continent?

Written by Bob Sundstrom

[Massed sounds of many wetland songbirds]

This is BirdNote.

[Massed sounds of many wetland songbirds]

By August, most birds in North America have finished nesting, bringing legions of new birds into the world. So many birds. Which provokes the question: what is the most abundant bird on the continent?

Estimating the numbers is tricky. Most good approximations are based on surveys of singing, breeding birds in spring. And of those, the most numerous is the somber, coo-ing Mourning Dove, estimated at 350 million. 

[Mourning Dove]  

Mourning doves prosper in many environments – from suburban back yards to ag-ricultural landscapes, from open country to forest edge – and they are regulars at bird feeders. And though they raise but two chicks at a time, a pair may have as many as six broods in one season.

Among our songbirds, the robin has taken the lead in recent years – perhaps 320 million and rising. 

[American Robin song]

Why? Because Robins love what we love: a bit of lawn and some shade trees.

[American Robin song]

But crows haven’t yet hit such heights. Despite their amazing, ongoing population explosion around cities, they come in far behind at around 31 million.

[Starling flock sounds from BirdNote archive]

And as for those clouds of starlings? There’s something over 200 million starlings on the continent. And they didn’t even get here until the 1890s.

For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.

                                                                  ###

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Itha-ca, New York. Wetland Ambient 110208 by D. S. Herr; Mourning Dove 22930 recorded by W. R. Fish; American Robin 94383 recorded by W. L. Hershberger; European Starlings 10002 recorded by Martyn Stewart

BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Dominic Black

© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org    August 2014   Narrator: Michael Stein

ID#  howmanybirds-01-2014-08-01      howmanybirds-01   

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