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Extinct birds

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.

Extinct species

Moas (Dinornithiformes). Large flightless birds on New Zealand, they were 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. New Zealand has no significant indigenous mammal life. The entire animal ecology consisted of birds, with the moas filling the niche of deer or cattle, and the harpagornis filling the niche of the wolf or tiger.

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, only 21 have escaped extinction.

Rodrigues Solitaire (Pezophaps solitaria). Last seen c.1730.

Mauritius Blue Pigeon (Alectroenas nitidissima). Extinct in 19th century.

Rodrigues Starling (Necropsar rodericanus).

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.

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.

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.

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.

Ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis). This 50-centimeter-long woodpecker is officially listed as endangered, although the last positive sighting was in Cuba in 1987. The reason is probably loss of habitat.

Bachman's warbler (Vermivora bachmanii).

Heath Hen (Tympanuchus cupido).

Hawaiian Akialoa[?] (Hemignathus obscurus).

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