What are the world’s most endangered bird species?



  1. 0 Votes
    Unfortunately, many bird species around the world have been brought close to the brink of extinction by human activity.  For these species to recover, careful conservation efforts including protection of essential habitat, and control of both hunting and the pet trade in endangered species, will be needed.  Below I’ve included just a few examples of particularly unusual or striking birds counted among the world’s most endangered.
    Ivory-Billed Woodpecker
    One of the rarest and most charismatic birds in North America, the ivory-billed woodpecker was in fact believed for many years to be extinct.  This bird is distinctive both because it is the biggest species of woodpecker in North America, and because of its unique coloration – ivory-bills are the only large woodpecker species with large patches of white on their shoulders and upper wings.  The main source of the ivory bill’s tragic near-disappearance was the destruction of the vast old-growth forests of the southern United States, which began in earnest shortly after the Civil War and continued into the mid-20th century.  Ivory-bills are dependent on very old, large trees in which to nest and raise their young, and the woodpecker’s once-considerable range shrank steadily as its habitat vanished.  When no verifiable sightings occurred for many years, scientists began to fear the ivory-bill had disappeared for good.  But in 2004 and 2005, experts searching for remaining populations of ivory-bills reported what were believed to be sightings of the birds in the forests of Arkansas.  Since then, no absolutely definitive proof of the birds’ existence has emerged – but many researchers now believe there is at least one remnant population of ivory-bills in Arkansas.
    Slender-Billed Curlew
    This inconspicuous but unique bird is unusual in that the exact reasons for its dramatic decline are not well understood by conservationists.  Around the 1920s, a sharp population decline was noted in the slender-billed curlew’s breeding habitat in northwester Siberia (pictured above).  Some experts believe the curlew’s reduced numbers may be due to the fact that it historically was hunted heavily, or to modifications of habitat along its migratory route.  The slender-billed curlew’s yearly migrations take it from Siberia all the way to central Europe; as with many birds that undergo very long migrations, it can be hard to determine what caused a population decline, because the diversity of habitats the species is exposed to and depends on while migrating.  Their migratory life style and inconspicuous appearance has made wild populations of slender-billed curlews quite difficult to monitor.  However researchers estimate the population of these birds may be as low as 50 remaining individuals, and conservation measures are urgently needed to protect it. 
    Spix’s Macaw
    This bird is thought by many to be completely extinct in the wild – but still exists in captive breeding populations which conservationists hope may someday be re-introduced into the wild.  The last known wild Spix’s macaw died in the year 2000.  The wild populations of the species have succumed mainly to a combination of the destruction of its forest habitat in northeastern Brazil (pictured above), and systematic trapping of the birds – in part to feed illegal trade in rare and exotic bird species.  Ironically however, interest in keeping Spix’s macaws in captivity may also turn out to be the salvation of species.  Over the last decade conservation efforts have centered around rounding up Spix’s macaws held in captivity – many of them in private collections – and attempting to establish breeding populations of captive birds.  So far about 70 Spix’s macaws are known to exist in captivity scattered around the world.  Yet experts estimate there may be as many as 120 individuals out there, a large number of which are being kept illegally by owners who have not come forward with the birds.  Conservationists hope to eventually introduce captive-reared Spix’s macaws back into the wild in places where their disappearing habitat has been protected.      
    Puerto Rican Parrot
    This bird species is the only parrot native to the island of Puerto Rico – and before colonization by Europeans millions of Puerto Rican parrots existed on this small Caribbean island.  Today the combined population of wild and captive Puerto Rican parrots consists of only a couple of hundred individuals.  The wild population is limited to a small number of birds living in Puerto Rico’s Caribbean National Forest – a remnant of the tropical forest that once covered most of the island.  As for so many other highly endangered species, the most important source of this bird’s decline has been the destruction of its habitat, caused in part by harvesting of forest trees for charcoal.  In 1968 however, conservationists began a concentrated effort to save this unique species, which at the time had been reduced to a little more than twenty individual birds.  The Puerto Rican parrot’s future is still far from certain, its numbers have increased gradually since then, providing hope that it may eventually recover to a healthy size.
    Nene Goose
    The nene goose is not only a fascinating endangered bird in its own right, but also a fitting representative of the threatened bird life of the Hawaiian Islands.  This island chain is home to many unusual birds that evolved in isolation from major predators and from competition with mainland bird species, and which were ill-adapted to survive human colonization of the islands.  The nene is the only living goose species in Hawaii, and has been granted the station of Hawaii’s state bird.  The major threats to the nene include both habitat destruction, and predation on the species by predatory animals introduced to the Hawaiian Islands by humans.  The closest living relative of the nene is thought to be the Canada goose of North America, but the two species are different in several important ways.  Most notably, the nene’s unusual breeding season sets it apart from probably all other geese in the world; instead of breeding during the spring time, the nene’s breeding season begins in November and continues all the way into June.  Like many of the endangered species of Hawaii, nene populations will need careful management and protection into the foreseable future in order to survive.
  2. 0 Votes

    The Philippine Eagle is among the tallest, rarest, and most powerful birds in the world. This beautiful bird of prey is considered critically endangered with populations ranging between 180-500 left in the wild. The main threats to these birds are deforestation through logging and expanding agriculture. Forests are being lost at a high rate, and most of the eagle’s forest in the lowlands are owned by logging companies. This bid became the national bird of the Philippines in 1995 being featured on at least twelve stamps from 1967-2007. and is highly desired by bird-watchers. File:PhilEagle1.jpg



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