Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne World Bird Populations
Name: R' Cohen
Status: teacher
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 1/13/2003

I am having trouble finding the following estimates of bird populations. Please direct me to appropriate places.

1. What is the total number of wild birds in the world?

2. What is the total number of migratory birds in the world?

3. What is the total number of domestic birds (chicken, turkey, ostrich, etc. farms; pets etc.) in the world?

According to Terres, The Audubon Encyclopedia of North American Birds, "it is difficult if not impossible to get an accurate count of the total population of a widespread species..." Given that ornithologists are not even sure how many species there really are in the world, it would be most difficult to estimate total populations. Nevertheless, the same source says that in 1951 "Fisher, a British ornithologist, estimated there are more than 100 billion individual wild birds in the world," and that Leonard Wing (1956) estimated that there were about 5.6 billion birds in the U.S. in summer and about 3.75 billion in winter. In 1931 McAtee estimated 2.6 billion breeding land birds in the U.S. Obviously these numbers are quite dated and only estimates.

I do not know where you would find estimates for domestic birds, possibly United Nations Agricultural agencies?

J. Elliott

Click here to return to the Zoology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory