Understanding and reversing the widespread population declines of birds require estimating the magnitude of all mortality sources. Numerous anthropogenic mortality sources directly kill birds. Cause-specific annual mortality in the United States varies from billions (cat predation) to hundreds of millions (building and automobile collisions), tens of millions (power line collisions), millions (power line electrocutions, communication tower collisions), and hundreds of thousands (wind turbine collisions). However, great uncertainty exists about the independent and cumulative impacts of this mortality on avian populations. To facilitate this understanding, additional research is needed to estimate mortality for individual bird species and affected populations, to sample mortality throughout the annual cycle to inform full life-cycle population models, and to develop models that clarify the degree to which multiple mortality sources are additive or compensatory. We review sources of direct anthropogenic mortality in relation to the fundamental ecological objective of disentangling how mortality sources affect animal populations.