Remember the 2011 animation film, Rio? The main character was Blu, a Spix’s Macaw that was raised in captivity gets to Brazil and has to mate with the last wild member of his species.
Real life brought grim news since 2000 when the last wild Spix’s Macaw disappeared. The species is now believed to be extinct, except for a few birds born and raised in captivity. And not just these blue parrots are on the brink of extinction. There are other seven bird species that are in the same situation since the last decade.
The study was funded by BirdLife International, and they analyzed 51 bird species which are considered critically endangered. They found that eight of them are either extinct or close to extinction.
More exactly, three are extinct, one is extinct in the wild (almost 70 Spix’s Macaws live in captivity), and four species are extremely close to extinction.
The three species of birds extinct are: the Brazilian cryptic tree hunter (last seen in 2007), the Brazilian Alagoas Foliage-gleaner (last seen in 2011), and the Hawaiian black-faced honeycreeper (last seen in 2004).
“A growing wave of extinctions across the continents”
Since scientists have started keeping records, 187 species of birds went extinct. Usually, the ones that rapidly disappeared were the ones native to islands because of invasive species, but the main culprit was deforestation, expansion of agriculture and logging.
The lead author of the paper and the Chief Scientist at BirdLife International, Dr. Stuart Butchart, stated:
“Ninety percent of bird extinctions in recent centuries have been of species on islands. However, our results confirm that there is a growing wave of extinctions sweeping across the continents, driven mainly by habitat loss and degradation from unsustainable agriculture and logging”.
He and his colleagues hope that this study will be a wake-up call to prevent further extinctions. Five out of the eight species that went extinct and were reported in the journal Biological Conservation lived in South America. Four of the species lived in Brazil.
Birds are more prone to go extinct when they lose their habitat because they consume specific prey only found in some trees:
“Our results confirm that there is a growing wave of extinctions sweeping across the continents, driven mainly by habitat loss and degradation from unsustainable agriculture and logging,” concluded the study author.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.