Eight avian species declared “extinct” in new study


  • Scientists have declared eight species of birds to be extinct in what are being seen as the first avian extinctions of the 21st century.

About the species:

  • These include Spix’s macaw, the Alagoas foliage-gleaner, the cryptic treehunter, the Pernambuco pygmy-owl, the poo-uli, or black-faced honeycreeper and the glaucous macaw.
  • Five of these new extinctions have occurred in South America and have been attributed by scientists to deforestation.
  • The study was conducted by non-profit “BirdLife International” and was published in the journal Biological Conservation. It assessed 51 species judged “critically endangered” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) “Red List” by using a new statistical method.
  • Four out of the eight species declared extinct belong to Brazil. The Spix’s macaw, a type of parrot, was last sighted in the wild in 2000. The Alagoas foliage-gleaner, a small forest bird, became extinct in 2011.
  • The cryptic treehunter has not been seen in the wild since 2007, when its forest home in Murici in north-eastern Brazil was destroyed and replaced with sugar cane plantations and pasture.
  • The fourth Brazillian species to go extinct is the Pernambuco pygmy-owl, a 15cm-tall owl that eats insects and hasn’t been seen in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco since 2002.
  • The fifth South American species on the list is the glaucous macaw, once found in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil before its palm grove habitat was destroyed to make space for farming.
  • Another non-South American species on the list is the poo-uli, or black-faced honeycreeper, which was found on the island of Maui in Hawaii but was last sighted in 2004.

About Birdlife International:

  • BirdLife International (formerly the International Council for Bird Preservation) is a global partnership of conservation organisations that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources. It is the world’s largest partnership of conservation organisations, with over 120 partner organisations.
  • BirdLife International publishes a quarterly magazine, World Birdwatch, which contains recent news and authoritative articles about birds, their habitats, and their conservation around the world.
  • BirdLife International is the official Red List authority for birds, for the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs):

  • The IBAs are “places of international significance for the conservation of birds and other biodiversity” and are “distinct areas amenable to practical conservation action,” according to BirdLife International.
  • Declaring a site as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area does not ensure that the site gets legal protection or becomes inaccessible to people. Instead BirdLife International encourages national and State governments to recognise the areas as sites of vital importance for conservation of wildlife and to empower local community-based conservation initiatives.


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