Record Numbers of Bird Species Threatened with Extinction in IUCN Red List Update


photo: Duncan via flickr

I admit it's sort of perverse to say, but mammals and amphibians get all the attention in the endangered species discussion. But according to the latest update of the IUCN Red List, the bird portion of which is Birdlife International's domain, a record number of known bird species are threatened, 12%; and nine new species were listed as critically endangered:When the IUCN considers a species as threatened with extinction, it further breaks those down as vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered and extinct in the wild. So off the 1,227 species considered threatened, 669 are considered vulnerable, 362 endangered, 192 critically endangered, and 4 extinct in the wild.

Habitat Loss, Invasive Species, Human Activity the Main Threats
The main threats birds face are similar to what any species faces, really: Land conversion to agriculture (73% of species affected) and direct of indirect human use of biological resources. Invasive species place a full third of globally threatened bird species at risk . These threats have only been increasing since the first global assessment of bird species at risk of extinction was carried out in 1988. Despite the real gains seen in some species due to concerted conservation effort, these are outweighed by the overall number of species deteriorating in status.

The report says that particularly heavy bird population declines have been seen in Indonesia and Malaysia, the result on increased deforestation as logging and conversion to plantation agriculture destroys habitat. Albatrosses and petrels have also seen large declines, with "significant mortality as bycatch in commercial longline fisheries."

18 Bird Species Extinct Since 1975
There have been a total of 133 extinctions of documented bird species since 1500, 18 of which have occurred in the last 25 years of the 20th century. Three species have gone extinct in the wild in the past nine years, according to Birdlife International: Spix's Macaw in 2000, the Hawaiian Crow in 2002, and the last Po'ouli (also from Hawaii) died in captivity in 2004.

More: Birdlife International

via: BBC News
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