The birds we've lost: 10 incredible avian species that are gone forever

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Laughing owls
credit: Henry Charles Clarke Wright / John Kendrick (Te Papa Museum)

From the passenger pigeon to the laughing owl, here is but a small sampling of the mighty birds that are now extinct.

Glorious are the birds. These beautiful nimble creatures that take to the sky and fill the air with song are some of the most fascinating and inspiring creations that Mother Nature has to offer ... and mankind is managing to kill them off. Over the course of the last five centuries, approximately 150 bird species have gone extinct thanks to us. And the research suggests that rate at which they are becoming extinct is increasing; if current trends persist, the rate will be ten times higher by the end of this century.

As of now, more than 1,300 other bird species are threatened with extinction. Not only is the planet losing some of its most joyous inhabitants, but in terms of the canary-in-the-coalmine scenario, it doesn't bode well for us humans either.

Here are just a few we've lost. How far will we go until we stop this ongoing tragedy and realize how much more we have to lose?

Laughing owl

Endemic to New Zealand, Sceloglaux albifacies, pictured above, was becoming rare by the late 19th century; the last known one of the species was found dead in Canterbury, New Zealand on July 5, 1914. Famous for its uncanny call, hence the name, its sound was variously described as "a loud cry made up of a series of dismal shrieks frequently repeated"; "A peculiar barking noise"; and "A melancholy hooting note" ... in addition to random whistling, chuckling and mewing. According to some, laughing owls were attracted to the sound of accordions playing.

Extinction of this charming and gentle-natured bird was caused by habitat modification, collection of specimens, and the introduction of mammal predators such as cats.

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