Wildlife & Biodiversity

Eight avian species declared “extinct” in new study

The species, most of which are South American, are the first avian extinctions of the 21st century

 
By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Wednesday 05 September 2018
Bird Extinctions
A Spix's Macaw in Vogelpark Walsrode, Walsrode, Germany in about 1980           Credit: Wikimedia Commons A Spix's Macaw in Vogelpark Walsrode, Walsrode, Germany in about 1980 Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Scientists have declared eight species of birds to be extinct in what are being seen as the first avian extinctions of the 21st century, according to a report in the British newspaper, The Guardian.

These include Spix’s macaw, the Alagoas foliage-gleaner, the cryptic treehunter, the Pernambuco pygmy-owl, the poo-uli, or black-faced honeycreeper and the glaucous macaw.

Five of these new extinctions have occurred in South America and have been attributed by scientists to deforestation.

The study was conducted by non-profit “BirdLife International” and was published in the journal Biological Conservation. It assessed 51 species judged “critically endangered” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) “Red List” by using a new statistical method.

Four out of the eight species declared extinct belong to Brazil. The Spix’s macaw, a type of parrot, was last sighted in the wild in 2000. The Alagoas foliage-gleaner, a small forest bird, became extinct in 2011.

The cryptic treehunter has not been seen in the wild since 2007, when its forest home in Murici in north-eastern Brazil was destroyed and replaced with sugar cane plantations and pasture.

The fourth Brazillian species to go extinct is the Pernambuco pygmy-owl, a 15cm-tall owl that eats insects and hasn’t been seen in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco since 2002.

The fifth South American species on the list is the glaucous macaw, once found in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil before its palm grove habitat was destroyed to make space for farming.

Another non-South American species on the list is the poo-uli, or black-faced honeycreeper, which was found on the island of Maui in Hawaii but was last sighted in 2004.

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