Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Since 1600, over 100 species of birds have become extinct, and this rate of extinction seems to be increasing. The situation is exemplified by Hawaii, where 30% of all now-extinct species originally lived. Other areas, such as Guam, have also been hard hit; Guam has lost over 60% of its native species in the last 30 years, many of them to imported snakes.
There are today about 10,000 species of birds, and 1186 of them are considered to be under threat of extinction. Except for 11 species, the threat is man-made.
Island species in general, and flightless island species in particular are most at risk. The disproportionate number of rails in the list reflects the tendency of that family to lose the ability to fly when geographically isolated.
- Aepyornis, Aepyornis maximus
- Moa, Dinornithiformes. Large flightless birds on New Zealand, they were probably already extinct in 1642 when Europeans landed there. The extinction of the moa and its main predator, the Harpagornis, is attributed to the arrival of human settlers around 1000 A.D. Very early European arrivals, ca 1830-40, described seeing birds that might have been the last of the moa but the sightings have never been confirmed reliably. New Zealand has no significant indigenous mammal life. The entire animal ecology consisted of birds, with the moa filling the niche of deer or cattle, and the harpagornis filling the niche of the wolf or tiger. There were ten species, among them were Slender Moa, Dinornis robustus, Great Broad-billed Moa, Euryapteryx gravis and Lesser Megalapteryx, Megalapteryx didinus.
It has been long suspected that the species of moa described as Euryapteryx curtus/E. exilis, E. huttonii/
E. crassus, and Pachyornis septentrionalis/P. mappini constituted males and females, respectively. This has been confirmed by analysis of DNA extracted from bone material for sex-specific genetic markers (Nature 425 p.175). More interestingly, the former three species of Dinornis, D. giganteus = robustus, D. novaezealandiae and D. struthioides have turned out to be males (struthioides) and females of only two species, one each formerly occurring on New Zealands North (D. novaezealandiae) and South (D. robustus) Island (in addition to the Nature paper cited above, also Nature 425 p. 172). Moa females were larger than males, up to 150% of their size and 280% of their weight. This phenomenon, reverse size dimorphism, is not uncommon amongst ratites, being most pronounced in moa and kiwis.
On a side note, the plural form of moa is also moa, as Maori words do not feature plural-s.
- King Island Emu , Dromaius ater (Australia 1850)
- Kangaroo Island Emu , Dromaius baudinianus (Australia 1827)
- New Zealand Cape Barren Goose, Cereopsis novaezeelandiae
- Korean Crested Shelduck, Tadorna cristata. Officially critically endangered due to recent unconfirmed reports. Last confirmed record in 1964.
- Réunion Shelduck , Alopochen kervazoi (Mascarenes 1674)
- Mauritian Shelduck , Alopochen mauritianus (Mascarenes 1698)
- Amsterdam Island Duck , Anas marecula (Amsterdam Island 1800)
- Mauritian Duck , Anas theodori (Mascarenes 1710)
- Pink-headed Duck, Netta caryophyllacea. Officially critically endangered due to parts of its former range not yet being surveyed, but probably extinct. The only area in which it might reasonably still exist is Northern Myanmar due to its remoteness: the Leaf Muntjac a species of small deer, was newly described from the Putao area as late as 1998. Reports of Pink-headed Ducks continue to be received from this area, but searches have been inconclusive.
- Madagascar Pochard, Aythya innotata. Officially critically endangered, but probably extinct: only one, a semi-captive bird at Antananarivo Botanic Gardens, seen alive since 1991, this bird dying in 1992.
- Labrador Duck, Camptorhynchus labradorius. This eider-like sea duck was never very common. Although it has been hunted for food, it probably died out because of decline of mussels and shellfish due to pollution. The last one was seen at Elmira, New York, in 1878.
- Auckland Islands Merganser, Mergus australis (Auckland Islands 1902)
- Branta hylobadistes
- Branta (new species), Hawaiian Giant Goose
Quails and relatives
- Heath Hen, Tympanuchus cupido cupido, a subspecies of the Greater Prairie-Chicken
- New Zealand Quail , Coturnix novaezelandiae (New Zealand, 1875)
- Himalayan Quail , Ophrysia superciliosa. Officially critically endangered. Not recorded with certainty since 1876, but thorough surveys are still required, and there is a recent set of possible sightings around Naini Tal in 2003.
- Colombian Grebe , Podiceps andinus. Last seen in Colombia in 1977.
- Atitlan Grebe , Podilymbus gigas. Last seen in Guatemala in 1986.
- St Helena Bulwer's Petrel , Bulweria bifax (St Helena 1550)
- St Helena Gadfly Petrel , Pterodroma rupinarum (St Helena 1550)
- New Zealand Storm-petrel, Oceanites maorianus (New Zealand 1850) (unconfirmed sighting reported in 2003: ). A reasonably well confirmed sighting was reported on 18 January 2004 by members of the NZ Ornithological Society who spotted a flight of eleven birds in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland. Final confirmation awaits DNA Analysis.
- Guadalupe Storm Petrel , Oceanodroma macrodacyla
- Spectacled Cormorant, Phalacrocorax perspicillatus
Herons and related birds
- New Zealand Little Bittern , Ixobrychus novazelandiae (New Zealand 1900)
- Réunion Night Heron , Nycticorax duboisi (Mascarenes 1674)
- Mauritius Night Heron , Nycticorax mauritianus (Mascarenes 1700)
- Rodrigues Night Heron , Nycticorax megacephalus (Mascarenes 1761)
- Réunion Flightless Ibis, Threskiornis solitarius (Mascarenes 1750) This species was the base for the supposed 'Réunion Solitaire', a supposed relative of the Dodo and the Rodrigues Solitaire. Given the fact that ibis, but no dodo-like bones were found on Réunion and that old descriptions match a flightless Sacred Ibis quite well, the 'Réunion Solitaire' hypothesis has been refuted.
- Apteribis , a small flightless ibis from the Hawaiian Islands.
- Argentavis, Argentavis magnificens
- Guadalupe Caracara, Polyborus lutosus
- Haast's Eagle, Harpagornis moorei. Giant eagle (up to 2.6m wingspan) endemic to New Zealand. Extinct approximately 1400 A.D. due to habitat loss and the extinction of its large flightless bird prey following human occupation.
- Chatham Islands Rail , Rallus modestus
- Wake Island Rail , Rallus wakensis
- Tahitian Red-billed Rail , Rallus pacificus
- Ascension Island Rail , Atlantisia elpenor
- Kusaie Island Crake , Porzana monasa
- Hawaiian Rail , Porzana sandwichensis
- Laysan Rail, Porzana palmeri
- Samoan Wood Rail , Gallinula pacifica
- Lord Howe Swamphen, Porphyrio albus
- Mauritius Red Hen , Aphanapteryx bonasia
- Leguat's Gelinote , Aphanapteryx leguatz
- Javanese Lapwing , Vanellus macropterus
- White-winged Sandpiper, Prosobonia leucoptera
- Eskimo Curlew, Numenius borealis
- Great Auk, Alca impennis or Pinguinus impennis. At 75 centimeters, the flightless Great Auk was the largest of the auks. It was hunted to extinction for food and down for mattresses. The last pair were killed July 3, 1844.
- Liverpool Pigeon , Caloenas maculata. Also known as the Spotted Green Pigeon, the only specimen has been in Liverpool Museum since 1851, and was probably collected on a Pacific island for Edward Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby.
- Rodrigues Pigeon , Columba rodericana
- Bonin Wood Pigeon , Columba versicolor
- Mauritius Blue Pigeon , Alectroenas nitidissima Extinct in 19th century.
- Forster's Dove of Tanna , Gallicolumba ferruginea
- Marquesas Fruit Pigeon , Ptilinopus mercerii
- Cholseul Crested Pigeon , Microgoura meeki
- Passenger Pigeon, Ectopistes migratorius. The passenger pigeon was once probably the most common bird in the world. It was hunted close to extinction for food and sport in the late 19th century. The last one died in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.
- Dodo, Raphus cucullatus, called Didus ineptus by Linnaeus. A meter-high (yard-high) flightless bird on Mauritius. Its forest habitat was lost when Dutch settlers moved to the island and the dodo's nests were destroyed by the rats, pigs, and cats the Dutch brought with them. The last specimen was killed in 1681, only 80 years after the arrival of the new predators. See dodo tree for a dodo-dependent plant species threatened with extinction after another 300 years. Of the 45 bird species originally found on Mauritius, 24 are now extinct.
- Rodrigues Solitaire, Pezophaps solitaria. Last seen c.1730.
- Norfolk Island Kaka, Nestor productus
- Paradise Parrot, Psephotus pulcherrimus
- Society Parakeet , Cyanoramphus ulietanus
- Black-fronted Parakeet , Cyanoramphus zealandicus
- Newton's Parakeet, Psittacula exsul
- Mascarene Parrot , Mascarinus mascarinus
- Broad-billed Parrot , Lophopsitiacus mauritianus
- Rodrigues Parrot , Necropsittacus rodericanus
- Cuban Red Macaw , Ara tricolor
- Glaucous Macaw, Anodorhynchus glaucus Officially critically endangered due to persistent rumours of wild birds, but probably extinct.
- Carolina Parakeet, Conuropsis carolinensis. The only parrot native to the eastern US, the Carolina Parakeet was hunted to extinction for its plumage and to prevent damage to crops; it also suffered from destruction of its habitat. The last one died in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1918.
- Delalande's Coucal , Coua delalandei (Madagascar)
- St Helena Cuckoo , Nannococcyx psix
- Reunion Owl , Mascarenotus grucheti
- Mauritius Owl , Mascarenotus sauzieri
- Rodrigues Little Owl , Athene murivora
- Laughing Owl, Sceloglaux albifacies (New Zealand)
- Jamaica Least Pauraque , Siphonorhis americanus
- Brace's Emerald , Chlorostilbon bracei (Bahamas 1900)
- Gould's Emerald , Chlorostilbon elegans (Jamaica & Bahamas 1900)
- Ryukyu Kingfisher , Halcyon miyakoensis. This was a sub-species of the Micronesian Kingfisher Halycon cinnamomina.
- St Helena Hoopoe, Upupa antaois (St Helena 1550)
- Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Campephilus principalis. The last positive sighting was in Cuba in 1987; a claim of a pair spotted in Louisiana in 1999 has been discredited. The reason of the decline or extinction of this bird is probably loss of habitat.
- Imperial Woodpecker, Campephilus imperialis. This 50-centimeter-long woodpecker is officially listed as critically endangered.
- Stephens Island Wren, Xenicus lyalli
- New Zealand Bush Wren, Xenicus longipes
- Bonin Islands Thrush , Zoothera terrestris
- Bay Thrush , 'Turdus' ulietensis. A completely mysterious bird now only known from a painting and some descriptions of a (now lost) specimen. Its taxonomic position is unresolvable, although for biogeographic reasons and because of the surviving material, it possibly was a honeyeater.
- Grand Cayman Thrush , Turdus ravidus
- Kittlitz's Thrush , Zoothera terrestis
- Chatham Island Fernbird , Bowdleria rufescens
- Aldabran Brush Warbler , Nesillas aldabranus
- Lord Howe Gerygone , Gerygone insularis
- Guam Flycatcher , Myiagra freycineti
- Maupiti Monarch , Pomarea pomerea (Society Islands 1850)
- Piopio , Turnagra capensis
- Lord Howe Island White-eye , Zosterops strenua
- Kioea , Chaetoptila angustipluma
- Hawaii 'O'o , Moho nobilis
- Oahu 'O'o , Moho apicalis
- Molokai 'O'o , Moho bishopi
- Kauai 'O'o , Moho braccatus
- Bachman's Warbler, Vermivora bachmanii
- Akialoa,Hemignathus obscurus
- Ula-'ai-hawane, Ciridops anna
- Black Mamo, Drepanis funerea
- Hawaii Mamo, Drepanis pacifica
- Kakawahie, Paroreomyza flammea
- Kona Grosbeak, Psittirostra kona
- Lesser Koa-finch, Rhodacanthus flaviceps
- Greater Koa-finch, Rhodacanthus palmeri
- Greater Amakihi, Viridonia sagittirostris
- Slender-billed Grackle , Quiscalus palustris (Mexico 1910)
- Bonin Islands Grosbeak , Chaunoproctus ferreorostris
- Kusaie Island Starling , Aplonis corvina
- Mysterious Starling , Aplonis mavornata
- Norfolk and Lord Howe Starling , Aplonis fusca
- Bourbon Crested Starling , Fregilupus varius
- Huia, Heteralocha acutirostris
- Po'ouli, Melamprosops phaeosoma (the last known bird has died in captivity at November 28 2004)
The Rodrigues Starling , variously described as Fregilupus rodericanus, Necropsar rodericanus, Testudophaga bicolor or Necropsar leguati, was finally resolved to be based on a misidentified partially albinotic specimen of the Martinique Trembler (Cinclocerthia ruficauda gutturalis) (Fleischer et al., Poster Presentation 567 at NAOC 2002).
External links and references
- The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
- Extinct Birds Stock Photography
- Extinct Birds from John James Audubon's Birds of America
- Utrotade faaglar (in Swedish)
- New Zealand Extinct Birds List
List adapted from that in Extinct Birds, Fuller, ISBN 0-19-850837-9
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