what’s the rarest bird

Over the last 500 years, as many as 183 bird species have gone extinct. Given that the more famous of these — the Passenger Pigeon and Ivory-billed Woodpecker — are immortalized in grainy black-and-white photos, you might be forgiven for assuming that bird extinction is a thing of the past. In truth, however, this danger is far from gone.

In only the last 10 years, eight birds have likely gone extinct. And, unlike past extinctions, which overwhelmingly affected island birds lacking the mobility to flee threats, recent disappearances have included more land-locked birds, particularly in South America.

All told, approximately one-eighth of all known birds — 1,469 species — are now threatened with extinction. Of these, 222 are declared Critically Endangered, in most dire need of conservation. In some cases, only a few dozen birds survive. In the worst, one or two remain.

Among the Critically Endangered species, weve identified four that rank as some of the rarest in the Western Hemisphere. Each of these birds survives in a single locality, represented by fewer than 20 remaining individuals. But we havent given up on their recovery. As youll read below, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and our conservation partners are racing to save these species while time remains.

Overview: Perhaps the worlds rarest bird, only one Stresemanns Bristlefront is known to survive in the wild. Unfortunately, this bird is confined to one of the most fragmented and degraded – and vulnerable – forests in the Americas.

Description: Stresemanns Bristlefront is a long-tailed, burrow-nesting songbird named for the bristly-looking tuft of feathers on its forehead. It belongs to the large family Rhinocryptidae, known as the tapaculos, native to Central and South America and notorious for their elusive habits and unresolved taxonomy.

Threats: Found only in Brazils Atlantic Forest, Stresemanns Bristlefront has suffered from extreme habitat loss, as the forest it depends upon for survival has been swept away for agriculture.

Conservation: After a 50-year disappearance, Stresemanns Bristlefront was rediscovered in 1995. In 2007, ABC supported the creation of the Songbird Forest Reserve to protect its remaining habitat. However, following a severe drought and a series of fires in 2016, the bird once again disappeared. Efforts to re-locate the bird proved successful when a single female bristlefront was found in December of 2018.

Overview: The Antioquia Brushfinch was described as a new species in 2007, based on museum specimens collected decades earlier. Attempts to find the bird failed and it was feared extinct until 2018, when it was spotted for the first time in 47 years in a small town outside of MedellÍn. Unfortunately, fewer than 20 individuals have been found, and immediate conservation efforts are needed.

Description: The Antioquia Brushfinch is known only from a single locality in Colombias Central Andes. Due to its recent rediscovery, little is yet known about this songbird. Field studies are needed to better understand the brushfinchs behavior and habitat requirements, and find more sites for this species.

Threats: Within the municipality of San Pedro de los Milagros, where the Antioquia Brushfinch is found, 73 percent of the land has been converted to pasture. Making matters worse, the remaining habitat is under severe threat of conversion for pasture and cropland. It is unknown if nest parasitism by Shiny Cowbirds may also contribute to declines, as has happened with other brushfinch species.

Conservation: As part of a larger effort to rediscover and conserve “lost” birds, ABC is supporting searches to find more populations of the Antioquia Brushfinch. Next steps include working with local partners to protect and restore remaining habitat.

Summary: The Blue-eyed Ground-Dove was considered extinct until 2015, when it was sighted for the first time in 75 years — setting off a race to save the species. Two years later, ABCs local partner SAVE Brasil created a reserve protecting important habitat for the dove, and the following year a state park was created, ensuring that all known individuals were contained within a protected area. In coming years, increased support from conservation groups and concerned birders will be critical to help this species recover.

Description: Already one of the worlds rarest birds, the Blue-eyed Ground-Dove becomes even harder to find outside of the breeding season. During these times, it eludes detection, slipping out of sight when approached. This small dove is named for its vivid blue eyes, which match the spots on its wings and contrast with the rest of its rich tawny and rufous plumage.

Threats: Found only in Brazils cerrado, or tropical savannah, the Blue-eyed Ground-Dove has lost much of its habitat to industrialized agriculture.

Conservation: Since the doves rediscovery, ABC and its partner SAVE Brasil have been working to find and protect remaining individuals. Through its International Program, ABC is supporting SAVE Brasils development of a Species Action Plan, which will bring together leading experts in an effort to address threats and save remaining Blue-eyed Ground-Doves.

Summary: After declining for decades, the total population of the Bahama Nuthatch was estimated to be 1,800 in 2004. In just three years, subsequent hurricanes destroyed remaining habitat, reducing the number to 23. When Hurricane Matthew struck the island of Grand Bahama in 2016, the nuthatch disappeared, and some feared it was extinct. In 2018, researchers rediscovered the bird. Surveys this year, however, failed to find any birds. ABC is working with a local partner to support ongoing search efforts.

Threats: The Bahama Nuthatch faces various suspected threats, including habitat destruction and degradation, invasive predatory species, fire, and hurricane damage.

Description: The Bahama Nuthatch is closely related to the Brown-headed Nuthatch of the southeastern United States, but can be distinguished by its longer beak, shorter wings, whiter belly, and vocalizations. The bird is only known from native pine forest on Grand Bahama Island, which lies approximately 100 miles off Palm Beach, Fla.

Conservation: ABC supported one of the two search teams that found the Bahama Nuthatch in 2018. Since then, we have joined forces with the Bahama National Trust to hire an avian ecologist on Grand Bahama, who will support bird conservation on the island, including part-time efforts to protect the Bahama Nuthatch.

Despite appearances, the situation for these birds isnt hopeless. Timely, well-planned recovery efforts can work, and ABC has successfully helped pull several of the rarest bird species from the brink. In total, 25 Critically Endangered bird species have begun to bounce back over the last 18 years thanks to the support of numerous conservation organizations.

Were working with local partners to make sure that the birds listed here also make successful comebacks. But we need to act rapidly if we want to save them. You can support ABCs efforts to save the rarest birds, and all of our conservation efforts throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Your contribution will be matched dollar-for-dollar. Act by December 31!

As many as 183 bird species have become extinct in the last 500 years. Since the more well-known species, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker and Passenger Pigeon, are captured in blurry black-and-white images, you could be forgiven for believing that bird extinction is a thing of the past. In truth, however, this danger is far from gone.

Only the last ten years have seen the probable extinction of eight birds. And more land-locked birds have vanished recently, especially in South America, in contrast to previous extinctions, which primarily affected island birds with no way to escape threats.

Approximately 1,469 species, or one-eighth of all known birds, are currently in danger of going extinct. 222 of them are listed as Critically Endangered, meaning they require immediate conservation. In some cases, only a few dozen birds survive. In the worst, one or two remain.

We’ve found four Critically Endangered species that are among the rarest in the Western Hemisphere. There are less than 20 surviving individuals of each of these birds, which are all found in a single location. But we havent given up on their recovery. American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and our conservation partners are working quickly to save these species while there is still time, as you will see below.

whats the rarest bird

Estimated population: One known individual

IUCN Status: Critically Endangered

Location: Bahia State, Brazil

Overview: Only one Stresemanns Bristlefront is known to survive in the wild, making it possibly the rarest bird in the world. Sadly, this bird is limited to one of the Americas’ most vulnerable, fragmented, and degraded forests.

The long-tailed, burrow-nesting songbird known as Stresemanns Bristlefront gets its name from a bristly-looking tuft of feathers on its forehead. It is a member of the large family Rhinocryptidae, also referred to as the tapaculos, which is native to Central and South America and is well-known for its enigmatic habits and unclear taxonomy.

Threats: Extinct only in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, Stresemanns Bristlefront has lost a great deal of its natural habitat as a result of the forest that was cleared for farming.

Conservation: Stresemanns Bristlefront was rediscovered in 1995 following a 50-year disappearance. To preserve the remaining habitat of the Songbird, ABC backed the establishment of the Songbird Forest Reserve in 2007. But in 2016, after a protracted drought and several fires, the bird vanished once more. The successful relocation of the bird was demonstrated in December 2018 when a lone female bristlefront was discovered.

whats the rarest bird

Estimated population: Fewer than 20 individuals

IUCN Status: Critically Endangered

Location: Antioquia Department, Colombia

Overview: Based on museum specimens gathered decades earlier, the Antioquia Brushfinch was described as a new species in 2007. The bird was thought to be extinct until 2018, when it was spotted in a small town outside of Medellín for the first time in 47 years after unsuccessful searches. Since there are sadly fewer than 20 of these individuals remaining, conservation efforts must be undertaken right away.

The Antioquia Brushfinch is restricted to a single location in the Central Andes of Colombia. Since it was only recently discovered again, not much is known about this songbird. To discover more locations for this species and to gain a better understanding of the behavior and habitat needs of brushfinch, field research is necessary.

Dangers: 73 percent of the land in the municipality of San Pedro de los Milagros, home to the Antioquia Brushfinch, has been converted to pasture. Even worse, there is a serious risk that the surviving habitat will be converted to cropland and pasture. It’s unclear if Shiny Cowbird nest parasitism, which has happened with other brushfinch species, could also be a factor in declines.

Conservation: ABC is funding efforts to locate additional Antioquia Brushfinch populations as part of a larger initiative to rediscover and preserve “lost” birds. Working with regional partners to preserve and replenish the remaining habitat is one of the next steps.

whats the rarest bird

Estimated population: ~19 individuals

IUCN Status: Critically Endangered

Location: Minas Gerais state, Brazil

In 2015, there was a race to save the Blue-eyed Ground-Dove, which was thought to be extinct until it was sighted for the first time in 75 years. Two years later, a state park was established, guaranteeing that every known individual was kept inside a protected area, and the following year, a reserve safeguarding crucial habitat for the dove was established by ABC’s local partner SAVE Brasil. To aid in the recovery of this species in the upcoming years, more backing from conservation organizations and concerned birdwatchers will be necessary.

The Blue-eyed Ground-Dove, which is already among the rarest birds in the world, becomes even more difficult to locate when the breeding season is over. It avoids being noticed during these periods, disappearing from view when it is approached. This little dove got its name because of its striking blue eyes that contrast with its rich tawny and rufous plumage and match the spots on its wings.

Threats: The Blue-eyed Ground-Dove, which is unique to Brazil’s cerrado, or tropical savannah, has lost a significant portion of its habitat due to industrial agriculture.

Conservation: ABC and its partner SAVE Brasil have been searching for and rescuing any surviving doves since their rediscovery. ABC is assisting SAVE Brazil in creating a Species Action Plan through its International Program, which will unite top specialists in an endeavor to combat threats and preserve the remaining Blue-eyed Ground-Doves.

whats the rarest bird

Estimated population: Two to five individuals

ICUN Status: Critically Endangered

Location: Grand Bahama Island, The Bahamas

In summary, the Bahama Nuthatch population was estimated to be 1,800 in 2004 after decades of decline. The remaining habitat was devastated by hurricanes in just three years, bringing the total down to 23. The nuthatch vanished after Hurricane Matthew hit Grand Bahama in 2016, raising concerns among some that it may have gone extinct. In 2018, researchers rediscovered the bird. Surveys this year, however, failed to find any birds. ABC is assisting ongoing search operations in collaboration with a local partner.

Threats: The Bahama Nuthatch is thought to be in danger from a number of sources, including fire, hurricane damage, invasive predatory species, and habitat degradation.

Though they are closely related, the Bahama Nuthatch can be identified from the Brown-headed Nuthatch of the Southeast United States by its vocalizations, longer beak, shorter wings, and whiter belly. The bird can only be found in Grand Bahama Island’s native pine forest, which is about 100 miles off Palm Beach, Florida.

Conservation: ABC supported one of the two search teams that found the Bahama Nuthatch in 2018. Since then, we have joined forces with the Bahama National Trust to hire an avian ecologist on Grand Bahama, who will support bird conservation on the island, including part-time efforts to protect the Bahama Nuthatch.

Despite appearances, the situation for these birds isnt hopeless. Recoveries that are timely and strategically planned can be effective; ABC has assisted in saving several of the rarest bird species from extinction. With the help of several conservation groups, 25 Critically Endangered bird species have started to recover over the past 18 years.

We are collaborating with regional partners to ensure that the birds on this list also successfully recover. But if we want to save them, we have to move quickly. You can help ABC’s conservation efforts across the Western Hemisphere, including our efforts to save the rarest birds.

4. Rufous-headed Hornbill (Rhabdotorrhinus waldeni)

The Rufous-headed Hornbill, which is indigenous to the Philippines, is among the most endangered members of its kind. Their bony “casque” protrudes from the top of their wrinkled reddish-orange bills. Although the bill appears sturdy, it is actually structurally thin and contains hollow bone cells.

Rufous-headed Hornbills have an unusual method of keeping their young safe: both parents construct a wall across the opening of a tree cavity with mud and saliva, effectively keeping the female and her eggs inside. They have a tiny opening at the top so the male can pass food through. In addition, the parents are fiercely protective of the nest when it comes to protecting it.

In addition to hunting and nest-poaching, the Rufous-Headed Hornbill is now extinct on several Philippine Islands as a result of severe deforestation. To save them, though, a lot of conservation work is being done, mostly through protecting their nests. Optimistically, their numbers seem to be back on the rise.

whats the rarest bird

10. GOLDEN PHEASANT (Chrysolophus pictus)

These pheasants, which you may have seen at the zoo, are hybrids.

The authentic golden pheasants are indigenous to China’s western forests. Known for their golden crests, the male’s vibrant body is truly amazing! They can reach a maximum length of 41 inches, with the tail making up two thirds of the body’s total length. Because they are rarely observed in their natural habitat, golden pheasants are extremely difficult to locate and little is known about them.

There are only about 1000-2000 of these beautiful birds left.

FAQ

What is the rarest bird in the world?

Bengal Florican. The Bengal Florican is native to the Indian subcontinent and is a rare species of bustard family. It is the world’s rarest bird but poaching and land conversion for agriculture took its habitat and is tagged as an endangered species.

What is the rarest bird in the USA?

The California Condor isn’t just the largest bird in North America, it’s also the rarest.

What is the hardest bird to find?

A tiny marsh bird that lives its life concealed by grassy vegetation, the Yellow Rail is one of the hardest birds to see in North America. Perfectly camouflaged in complex patterns of black, brown, yellow, and white, Yellow Rails run as quickly as rodents through dense marsh vegetation.

What is the mysterious bird in the world?

The Kakapo: Some 82 million years ago, the island of New Zealand broke off from what would become Australia, and the strange, flightless nocturnal parrot species called the kakapo began its unusual evolutionary path.