Since 2011, more than 1.6 million protected migratory birds across the United States have been killed with the blessing of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Birds often are dispatched on golf courses, even though the courses are certified as wildlife sanctuaries.

Businesses and the government are supposed to resort to what’s called lethal take only as a short-term solution. But as reporters Tom Knudson and Rachael Bale dug into Fish and Wildlife’s never-before-seen data, they found that many business and government agencies received permission to kill the same species in all three years for which they had data.

Here’s a sample of what they uncovered, with Knudson’s own photos:

American coot

Credit: Tom Knudson/Reveal Credit: Tom Knudson/Reveal

Number killed: 46,239
Commonly killed by: Country clubs, golf courses

Great blue heron

Credit: Tom Knudson/Reveal Credit: Tom Knudson/Reveal

Number killed: 20,332
Commonly killed by: Aquaculture facilities

Great egret

Credit: Tom Knudson/Reveal Credit: Tom Knudson/Reveal

Number killed: 12,819
Commonly killed by: Airports, aquaculture facilities

California gull

Credit: Tom Knudson/Reveal Credit: Tom Knudson/Reveal

Number killed: 7,704
Commonly killed by: U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, landfills

American white pelican

Credit: Tom Knudson/Reveal Credit: Tom Knudson/Reveal

Number killed: 3,330
Commonly killed by: Aquaculture facilities

American robin

Credit: Tom Knudson/Reveal Credit: Tom Knudson/Reveal

Number killed: 3,291
Commonly killed by: Vineyards, fruit farms, airports

American kestrel

Credit: Tom Knudson/Reveal Credit: Tom Knudson/Reveal

Number killed: 1,326
Commonly killed by: Airports

Great horned owl

Credit: Tom Knudson/Reveal Credit: Tom Knudson/Reveal

Number killed: 116
Commonly killed by: Airports, fish and parks departments

Byard Duncan is a reporter and producer for  engagement and collaborations for Reveal. He manages Reveal’s Reporting Networks, which provide more than 1,000 local journalists across the U.S. with resources and training to continue Reveal investigations in their communities. He also helps lead audience engagement initiatives around Reveal’s stories and assists local reporters in elevating their work to a national platform. In addition to Reveal, Duncan’s work has appeared in GQ, Esquire, The California Sunday Magazine and Columbia Journalism Review, among other outlets. He was part of Reveal’s Behind the Smiles project team, which was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2019. He is the recipient of two Edward R. Murrow Awards, a National Headliner Award, an Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, and two first-place awards for feature storytelling from the Society of Professional Journalists and Best of the West. Duncan is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.