8 Bird Species Fall Victim to 'Growing Wave of Extinctions'

Habitat loss via deforestation among issues: study
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2018 3:33 PM CDT
Three young Spix's macaws are pictured in Germany on April 8, 2015.   (AP Photo/dpa, Patrick Pleul)

(Newser) – Eight bird species, including the Brazilian blue parrot featured in 2011 animated flick Rio, make up the first confirmed avian extinctions this decade. The Spix's macaw (the species of the Rio characters Blu and Jewel) hasn't been seen in the wild since 2000, as a 2016 sighting was later determined to be a captive bird that escaped, per the Guardian. It's to be added to a list of confirmed or highly likely avian extinctions along with seven others based on an assessment by BirdLife International; the complete list can be seen in this press release. "Extinctions are continuing and accelerating," but "we hope this study will inspire a redoubling of efforts to prevent other extinctions," says chief scientist Stuart Butchart, who points the finger at deforestation; five of the eight extinctions reported in Biological Conservation were in South America.

"Our evidence shows there is a growing wave of extinctions washing over the continent driven by habitat loss from unsustainable agriculture, drainage and logging," says Butchart. Four of the five South American extinctions happened in Brazil. The Alagoas foliage-gleaner, a small forest bird, vanished from a heavily logged section of the country in 2011, while the cryptic treehunter disappeared in 2007 after northeastern forests were cut down. Per the Guardian, there's no chance of recovering either species—half of the eight species listed should be considered extinct, the other half "possibly extinct," which researchers say means they have "almost certainly" vanished completely from the wild—though captive populations of Spix's macaw are being bred to enter the wild. Several other birds are at risk of extinction, per National Geographic and ABC Australia, though the Bahama Nuthatch, thought to have vanished after 2016's Hurricane Matthew, was recently sighted. (Read more extinction stories.)

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