Many grassland ecosystems and their associated biodiversity depend on the interactions between fire and land-use, both of which are shaped by socioeconomic conditions. The Eurasian steppe biome, much of it situated in Kazakhstan, contains 10% of the world’s remaining grasslands. The break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, widespread land abandonment and massive declines in wild and domestic ungulates led to biomass accumulation over millions of hectares. This rapid fuel increase made the steppes a global fire hotspot, with major changes in vegetation structure. Yet, the response of steppe biodiversity to these changes remains unexplored. We utilized a unique bird abundance dataset covering the entire Kazakh steppe and semi-desert regions together with the MODIS burned area product. We modeled the response of bird species richness and abundance as a function of fire disturbance variables—fire extent, cumulative burned area, fire frequency—at varying grazing intensity. Bird species richness was impacted negatively by large fire extent, cumulative burned area, and high fire frequency in moderately grazed and ungrazed steppe. Similarly, overall bird abundance was impacted negatively by large fire extent, cumulative burned area and higher fire frequency in the moderately grazed steppe, ungrazed steppe, and ungrazed semi-deserts. At the species level, the effect of high fire disturbance was negative for more species than positive. There were considerable fire legacy effects, detectable for at least 8 years. We conclude that the increase in fire disturbance across the post-Soviet Eurasian steppe has led to strong declines in bird abundance and pronounced changes in community assembly. To gain back control over wildfires and prevent further biodiversity loss, restoration of wild herbivore populations and traditional domestic ungulate grazing systems seems much needed.