They’re everywhere, these things.

Annoying crows, musical doves and majestic falcons serve to complement our rich endowment of nature.

Ever wonder how many wild birds are out there? If they put their minds to it, Hitchcock-style, they could run the planet.

Scientists decided to put a number on the population of our winged friends and, in a monumental research effort found it right around 50 billion.

It seems we are significantly outnumbered.

“Humans have spent a great deal of effort counting the members of our own species – all 7.8 billion of us,” ecologist Will Cornwell, from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney in Australia, said in coverage of the research at “This is the first comprehensive effort to count a suite of other species.” 

There were 9,700 bird species included in the report, which, researchers allow, is given to wide variances due to the study’s immense size.

“Those data were combined with actual case studies and a scaling algorithm to estimate the number of birds on the planet as a whole, with allowances made for species that are more likely to be spotted than others,” according to

Four species count more than a billion members: the house sparrow, the European starling, the ring-billed gull and the barn swallow.

Research was greatly helped by more than a billion sightings gathered from the portal called eBird, whose 600,000 contributors were a big help, and scientists want even more people involved.

“While this study focuses on birds, our large-scale data integration approach could act as a blueprint for calculating species-specific abundances for other groups of animals,” said biologist Corey Callaghan, from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig in Germany.

The scientists are hoping to repeat the research every few years.

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