Eight bird species confirmed extinct
New analysis by BirdLife International indicates that eight further species of bird can be confirmed extinct or considered highly likely to be extinct. When you think about extinct birds it can be the dodo which first pops into your mind, but this bird’s demise was an historical event. Many species continue to become extinct and more are assessed to be vulnerable every year.
South American birds lost
The latest losses include the Brazilian Spix’s macaw, as seen in the popular children’s movie Rio. This brilliant blue bird has become extinct since the turn of the millennium. Other birds which have disappeared recently are the poo-uli, the Pernambuco pygmy-owl and the cryptic treehunter. In the past, 90% of bird extinctions have been species which lived on small and remote islands.
These birds fell prey to hunting or invasive species. However, five of the new extinctions have been South American birds. Their loss has been attributed to deforestation. There is an extinction crisis evolving and it is being caused by the destruction of habitats by humans. Agriculture, drainage and logging are all taking their toll on wildlife.
Thousands of birds are threatened
The number of species which are now in danger worldwide is truly shocking. It is thought that more than 26,000 of the world’s creatures are currently threatened. Scientists believe that human activity could cause a sixth great extinction event in the near future.
Four of the eight newly identified bird extinctions took place in one country - Brazil. The last known sighting of the Spix’s macaw was in 2000. The po’ouli hasn’t been seen since 2004. Captive populations of the Spix’ macaw are being bred for reintroduction, so there is hope for this bird. But there will be no second chance for the poo-uli, the cryptic treehunter and the Alagoas foliage-gleaner as there are no captive specimens to breed from. These beautiful and fascinating birds are gone forever.
Critically endangered species
The study by BirdLife International revealed that 51 species should be considered critically endangered. Just one species was found to be less endangered than previously thought. The birds in peril include the glaucous macaw, once found in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil before the clearing of its palm grove habitats for agriculture saw it decline to a single population in Paraguay.
It can be difficult to determine whether or not a species has become extinct hence some birds are classified as very possibly extinct. It is crucial that a bird isn’t declared extinct prematurely as this can mean that conservation efforts are abandoned. The result is then a hastening of the end for any species which have unexpectedly survived. Assessments of extinction are important as they ensure that conservation resources are targeted to where they are need most.
Sadly, it is too late for some birds but must be increased to prevent the loss of further species. Thanks to extensive research, we know which birds are vulnerable but there is much to be done to save them.