14 Endangered Birds Worth Tweeting About

These embattled birds need all the help they can get.

millerbird perched in a tree

R. Kohley / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Nearly 10,000 bird species live on Earth, most of which are doing OK. But many face threats like deforestation, invasive species, and climate change, and about 12% are now on the worst perch of all: the brink of extinction.

Hundreds of rare birds may vanish within a century, which isn't just bad news for them. Birds offer an array of ecosystem services to keep habitats humming, and often act as sentinel species, hinting at an ecosystem's health like canaries in a coal mine.

There are too many endangered birds to provide a thorough list in this format, so here is a sampling of species whose existential dilemmas warrant more attention. Even if it's just a few brief tweets here and there, these and other endangered birds need all the help they can get.

1
of 14

Araripe Manakin

araripe manakin perched on a branch
The critically endangered araripe manakin exists only in a small area of Brazil, where it faces ongoing pressure from agriculture and other land development.

Rick elis.simpson / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

The striking, critically endangered Araripe manakin was unknown to science until 1998, when it was first reported in northeastern Brazil. Only about 800 exist in the wild, all within roughly 11 square miles (28 square kilometers) of forest. Much of their habitat has been cleared for a variety of human uses, including cattle pastures, banana plantations, homes, and a water park.

2
of 14

Madagascar Pochard

Madagascar pochard close-up
The Madagascar pochard was considered extinct until 2006, when a few dozen birds were found at a remote volcanic lake.

Frank Vassen / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The Madagascar pochard was thought to be extinct after fruitless searches in the 1990s, but it miraculously reappeared in 2006 when scientists found 29 adults living at a volcanic lake. Although the diving ducks are among Earth's rarest birds, their wild population is now supported by a captive breeding program and protected by permanent guards.

3
of 14

Blue-Throated Macaw

blue-throated macaw portrait on black background
The blue-throated macaw is endemic to a small region in Bolivia.

Steve Wilson / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Bolivia's blue-throated macaw has suffered mightily for the international pet trade, which caused its wild population to plummet in the 1970s and '80s. Bolivia banned live exports of the critically endangered parrots in 1984, but deforestation still threatens the roughly 120 wild survivors — a total many times smaller than the global number kept as pets.

4
of 14

Bali Mynah

critically endangered Bali mynah perched on a wooden ledge in front of vegetation
Only about 100 Bali mynahs remain in the wild.

Kagenmi / Getty Images 

Also known as the Bali starling or Jalak Bali, this majestic mynah serves as the official mascot of Bali, Indonesia. It's a critically endangered species due to decades of illegal trapping for the pet trade, with only about 115 wild specimens confined to three small habitats. Meanwhile, an estimated 1,000 Bali mynahs live in captivity around the world.

5
of 14

Philippine Eagle

philippine eagle
The Philippine eagle is the largest eagle species alive today, but also endangered by habitat loss.

Shankar S. / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The Philippine eagle (aka monkey-eating eagle) can live for 60 years and grow nearly 3.5 feet (1 meter) long, making it the largest eagle species alive today. It's critically endangered despite its role as the Philippines' national bird, losing swaths of habitat over the past 50 years to widespread deforestation. Recent surveys suggest 90 to 250 mating pairs still exist.

6
of 14

Millerbird

millerbird looking at camera
A millerbird perches on a branch after being released on the island of Laysan.

R. Kohley / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The millerbird is a Hawaiian warbler split into two subspecies, each from its own tiny island. One, the Laysan millerbird, has been extinct since 1923 due to non-native rabbits and livestock overeating local vegetation. That leaves just the critically endangered Nihoa millerbird, whose population on 173-acre (70-hectare) Nihoa fluctuates between 50 and 800. In recent years, scientists have also begun introducing Nihoa millerbirds at Laysan.

7
of 14

Golden White-Eye

golden white-eye
A golden white-eye perches on a banana tree.

Peter / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Golden white-eyes live on two of the Northern Mariana Islands, Aguijan and Saipan, but the latter is home to 98% of them. Despite a total population of 73,000, the species is deemed critically endangered due to Saipan's recent invasion of brown tree snakes, exotic predators that have a history of decimating native birds on small islands.

8
of 14

Trinidad Piping Guan

trinidad piping guan
The Trinidad piping guan is endemic to its namesake island.

Heather Paul / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Known locally as "pawi," this turkeylike curassow cousin haunts the rainforest canopy in Trinidad. Both its range and population have shrunk in recent decades, due to poaching (it's been legally protected since 1963) as well as habitat loss to logging and farming. Between 70 and 200 Trinidad piping guans are now thought to exist in the wild.

9
of 14

Northern Bald Ibis

northern bald ibis perched on a branch
The northern bald ibis is also known as the waldrapp.

Richard Bartz / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5

Once common across the Middle East, North Africa, and southern Europe, the northern bald ibis has been in a slow, mysterious decline for centuries, leaving just a few hundred in Morocco, Turkey and Syria. Scientists think unidentified natural factors are behind the long-term decline, but the faster pace of recent losses is also blamed on human activities.

10
of 14

Whooping Crane

whooping crane flying
Whooping cranes are recovering from a dramatic decline last century.

John Noll / U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Whooping cranes, the tallest birds in North America, are still in the early stages of an unlikely comeback. Overhunting and habitat loss had reduced the species to just 15 birds by the 1940s, but thanks to intensive conservation efforts — including the use of ultralight aircraft to teach young cranes how to migrate — the population is now up to about 600.

11
of 14

Golden-Cheeked Warbler

golden-cheeked warbler
A golden-cheeked warbler perches in a tree at Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge in Texas.

Jason Crotty / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

All golden-cheeked warblers nest in the old-growth, oak-juniper woodlands of central Texas, then spend winter in various parts of Mexico and Central America. The endangered birds are being squeezed in both habitats, mainly by construction, agriculture, and reservoir development in Texas and by logging, burning, mining, and cattle grazing elsewhere.

12
of 14

Yellow-Eyed Penguin

yellow-eyed penguin
A yellow-eyed penguin on Enderby Island in the subantarctic Auckland Islands group.

Ross Land / Getty Images

The yellow-eyed penguin eschews the close-knit communities and frigid environments of many penguin species, opting for a more spread-out, less sociable life in New Zealand's coastal forests. It's also one of the world's rarest penguins, although conservation efforts have recently helped it rebound to more than 400 pairs on mainland New Zealand.

13
of 14

Amsterdam Albatross

Amsterdam albatross flying over ocean
The Amsterdam albatross breeds only on one island.

Vincent Legendre / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

The Amsterdam albatross is a broad-winged seabird that breeds nowhere but Amsterdam Island in the southern Indian Ocean. It relies on just one or two dozen mating pairs, and their ability to raise chicks is hindered lately by grazing cattle, feral cats, and longline fishing as well as naturally occurring diseases like avian cholera and E. rhusiopathidae.

14
of 14

Puerto Rican Nightjar

Puerto Rican nightjar
A Puerto Rican nightjar parent rests with its chick.

Mike Morel / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / public domain

The mottled, 8-inch (20-centimeter) Puerto Rican nightjar easily blends into the forest floors and scrublands of its namesake island, but those habitats are increasingly fragmented by residential, industrial, and recreational development. The species is endangered, but still has several hundred mating pairs, each of which can raise one or two chicks at a time.