how many species of birds are extinct

Kenn Kaufman: Reflecting on the melancholy finality of extinction can be disheartening. However, it’s also crucial for conservation efforts: the more we know about past extinctions, the greater our chances are of averting more in the future. Thus, researchers have worked hard to understand the phenomenon and compile precise lists of extinct animals.

Unfortunately, its impossible to know how many bird species weve lost in earths history. The most widely used lists of endangered and extinct species are those maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is a global database, frequently updated, that classifies species in a range of categories: Least Concern (for those that apparently are doing fine), Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered, and Critically Endangered. Beyond those threat levels are the species listed as Extinct in the Wild (for those surviving only in captivity) or Extinct.

A species must be known to have survived after the arbitrary date of 1500 A.D. in order to be classified as extinct. D. approximately when European exploration and colonization started to have an effect on the world (Species that went extinct earlier, such as woolly mammoths or dinosaurs, are not included.) The IUCN list, which is updated in collaboration with BirdLife International, contains a very thorough collection of bird data. Therefore, one might think that by looking at this list, we could determine with precision how many bird species have disappeared over the past 520 years.

Whos Kenn? Simply put, Kenn is a national treasure. Kenn Kaufman is a well-known birder, writer, and conservationist who has devoted his life to studying birds, writing about birds, and educating people about birds. In addition to serving as Audubon magazine’s field editor, he is an avid birder. Thus, we just ask Kenn whenever we have a bird-related question at work that stumps us. You can now ask Kenn any questions you may have about birds or birdwatching by leaving a comment below or on Facebook. Perhaps next month you’ll receive from Kenn the kind of comprehensive, considerate, and even lighthearted response we’ve grown to love over the years. —The Editors.

Why would these island birds vanish after being discovered? In some cases, European explorers or settlers hunted the birds themselves. Most of the time, though, the damage was done by other creatures that were brought in, purposefully or not. In Hawaii, introduced birds and an introduced mosquito brought avian malaria, to which the native forest birds had no resistance. On Guam, the brown tree snake arrived around 1949 and became abundant as it ate its way through the island’s avifauna. On other islands, introduced goats, pigs, or other large mammals destroyed habitat. And most often, the culprits were rats. Time after time, rats managed to swim ashore from ships and colonize remote islands, wiping out birds that had evolved in the absence of any such animals. This scenario played out innumerable times among the thousands of islands scattered across the western and southwestern Pacific. It undoubtedly happened many times at islands where no one had made any attempt to catalog the local birds.

Although most bird species (>80% 88. 41% of people live on continents (Johnson and Stattersfield, 1990), while 92% of extinctions have occurred on islands. These were frequently brought about by the introduction of invasive alien species, like goats, cats, and rats, which either harmed the native species’ habitat or preyed on it (BirdLife International 2008). Continental species, however, have not been immune, and those that are becoming extinct frequently had wide original ranges. The wave of island extinctions may be abating, possibly as a result of numerous potential alien species introductions that have already happened to predator-free islands, eradicating the vulnerable island species and successfully restoring the status of some of the remaining species. On the other hand, due to widespread and ongoing habitat destruction, the rate of extinctions on continents seems to be rising (see figure). It will be challenging to stop a much larger and more catastrophic extinction wave from sweeping across the continents if we continue to degrade and destroy vast areas of natural habitats.

It is estimated that since 1500, 182 bird species have gone extinct. With 19 species lost in the final quarter of the 20th century and four more known or suspected to have vanished since 2000, bird extinctions are still occurring. There seems to be a rise in the rate of extinctions across continents, mostly due to widespread and ongoing habitat destruction. Number of bird species extinctions by continent and island every 25 years

More bird species than any other have likely had more documented extinctions than any other. Since 1500, 161 bird species have been declared extinct. Included in this are five species that are extinct in the wild but still have populations in captivity. Many other species that are listed as Critically Endangered have likely also become extinct, but they can’t be declared that way until we have conclusive evidence (Butchart et al. 2006). These species are classified as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct) for a total of 21. Therefore, it’s possible that 182 bird species have vanished in the last 500 years.

There are still species going extinct: three species are thought to have vanished since 2000, and 19 species were lost in the final quarter of the 20th century. The last two Hawaiian Crow individuals, Corvus hawaiiensis, went extinct in the wild in June 2002, and Po’ouli Melamprosops phaeosoma, also from the Hawaiian Islands, was listed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct) after the last known individual passed away in captivity in November 2004. Spix’s Macaw, Cyanopsitta spixii, is classified as Critically Endangered: Possibly Extinct in the Wild. The last known individual vanished in Brazil towards the end of 2000.


What is the #1 most endangered bird?

1. Kakapo. The Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus), a nocturnal, flightless parrot native to New Zealand, is an enigmatic and unique species.

How many birds have gone extinct in the last 50 years?

Nearly 3 Billion Birds Gone Since 1970.

How many bird species have ever existed?

In total there are about 10,000 species of birds described worldwide, though one estimate of the real number places it at almost twice that. Taxonomy is very fluid in the age of DNA analysis, so comments are made where appropriate, and all numbers are approximate.

How many birds are in danger of extinction?

Of those 1,093 species, 89 bird species are listed as either threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. An additional 342 species are listed as Birds of Conservation Concern, in one or more geographic scales (e.g., local, regional, or national).