Colourful songbirds could be traded to extinction

Colourful songbirds could be traded to extinction
A black-winged myna - a popular species in the songbird trade in Asia Rick Stanley/Gabby Salazar

Uniquely coloured songbirds are at high risk of extinction, because they are in demand as household pets, research has shown.

The pet songbird trade in Asia has driven several varieties close to extinction, with birds targeted primarily for his or her beautiful voices.

At this point a study has revealed that particular colours associated with plumage put birds at greater danger of being taken from the particular wild and marketed.

Researchers say breeding birds in captivity for the trade could help.

“That won’t work with all species, ” said lead researcher Prof Rebecca Senior, from the University associated with Durham. “But there’s hope that we could shift the sourcing [of some pet birds] – so these people captive-bred rather than caught in the wild. inch

Supplying, rather than combating, the songbird trade might prove questionable, but these researchers say it could be a practical way to prevent species through being lost from the wild.

Bird market

The study, published in the log Current Biology, also showed that if the most desirable birds continued to be taken from the wild, the populations left within Asia’s tropical forests would gradually turn out to be “more drab”. The most striking, uniquely coloured birds would be the very first to be lost.

To understand the dangers to wild parrots, Prof Senior plus her colleagues performed what was essentially a stocktake of the species – and the colours – most commonly traded in the songbird markets of Asia.

“We found that will species that had a more unique colour – something not similar to other parrots – are more likely to be traded, ” the girl explained.

“And there are particular categories of colour that tend to be more common in the trade : azure (sometimes described as sky blue) and yellow. Pure white-colored is quite common, as well. ”

Silent, drab forests

The particular scientists also controlled the impact from the trade – removing the most commonly exchanged species from the crazy population. This demonstrated that continued songbird trapping would lead to “more brown and less blue” plumage in Asia’s tropical forests.

In parts of Asia, Philippines in particular, the effect of the trade has been labelled a preservation crisis. The Global Union for the Preservation of Nature (IUCN) set up a specialist team in order to prevent the extinction of species that are endangered by the trade .

Owning songbirds is deeply rooted in local culture in Indonesia. Bird-singing competitions are greatly popular and, in a national level, can provide prizes worth thousands of pounds. Many conservationists have concluded that combating the trade is usually pointless.

“Rather than go in just about all guns blazing and say, ‘you can’t take these parrots that have been an important component of your culture meant for so long’, ” said Prof Older, “we could identify the species which are at risk and try to change the sourcing to captive-bred birds.

“There is definitely potential for that to fill benefit demand that is present. ”

Birds for sale in a market in Jakarta

Victoria Gill

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