last Po'o-uli (one of the Hawaiian Honeycrepers)
in in captivity at the San Diego Zoo
are no second chances!
is what extinction looks like...
is the bird extinction capital of the world.
and Brazil share the honours for the
capitals of the world.
How Does Extinction
A Case Study - the Passenger
The Passenger Pigeon, once
probably the most numerous bird on the planet, made its home in the billion
or so acres of primary forest that once covered North America east of the
Rocky Mountains. Their flocks, a mile wide and up to 300 miles long, were
so dense that they darkened the sky for hours and days as the flock passed
overhead. Population estimates from the 19th century ranged from 1 billion
to close to 4 billion individuals. Total populations may have reached 5
billion individuals and comprised up to 40% of the total number of birds
in North America.
No one in the late 1800's could have
that these birds would no longer be
The immense roosting and
nesting colonies invited over-hunting. Tens of thousands of individuals
were harvested daily from nesting colonies, and shipped to markets in the
east to make pigeon pie. Modern technology hastened the demise of the Passenger
Pigeon. With the coming of the telegraph, the locations of flocks could
be ascertained, and the birds were rentlessly pursued. To add insult to
injury, continous clearing of the forests on which these birds depended
limited the nesting habitat that they could use.
Passenger Pigeon, named Martha, died alone at the Cincinnati Zoo at about
1:00 pm on September 1, 1914. Who could have dreamed that within a few
decades, the once most numerous bird on Earth would be forever gone?
In short, extinction
happens one stupid human step at a time.
Help us not to
take the next step....
What is the current
has recently published "Threatened
Birds of the
World". Here are some highlights:
There are over 9,900
known species of birds. Since 1500 A.D., 128 have become extinct, plus
a further 22 species that must be considered hypothetical. 103 species
have become extinct since 1800 A.D.
One in eight of the
remaining species, 1,183 bird species (or 12%), have a real risk of becoming
extinct in the next 100 years.
182 species are Critical,
meaning that they have only a 50% chance of surviving over the next 10
years (or three generations).
321 species are considered
meaning that they have only a 20% chance of surviving the next 20 years
(or five generations).
680 species are considered
meaning that the probability of extinction in the wild is greater
than 10% in the next 100 years.
An additional 727
species are Near-Threatened, meaning they do not quite meet
the criteria for the previous three categories.
The human race
seems to be getting better at this extinction game.
have always flirted with extinction as they lose the challenge
of the fittest. However, we are experiencing
rate of extinction and endangerment
in the history
of the world. What has changed?
A simple review of the World
Bird Gallery illustrates the problem.
Why is this Happening?
Many birds face multiple threats.
This table identifies the key threats
that are driven by the human species.
We are clearing their
forests (902 threatened species)
We are ploughing/farming
their prairies, grasslands and savannahs (383 threatened species)
We are shooting them
for food (233 threatened species)
We are draining their
wetlands (146 threatened species)
We are capturing
them for caged bird sales (111 threatened species)
We are introducing
new predators, like cats and rats, that isolated species have never learned
to deal with.
What Can We Do?
THINK GLOBAL: ACT
Join your local bird
club and pay your fees regularly.
Volunteer for habitat
conservation and local habitat renewal/preservation activities
Participate in local
research activities to count birds like:
the Christmas Bird
the Backyard Bird
Area Species Counts
Buy only Shade Grown
Coffee - see the Shade-grown Coffee Page
to see which birds ar losing their habitat.
Identify key local
species and protect/preserve their habitat
REMEMBER THEM WHEN
YOU ARE GONE! Leave money to the birds by
specifying your donations to local (or international) organizations in
your last will and testament.
ENCOURAGE LOCAL COMMUNITIES
TO SAVE THEIR BIRDS! This
article, (PDF) by Cagan Sekercioglu of Stanford University (Birding
35 (4), August
explains the Economics of Birding, and how birding ecotourists can contribute
to local economies to support and protect bird habitat.
a national or international organization that support birds. Get involved
in their projects:
with your local govenment. Keep your government accountable regarding their
ADOPT A BIRD.
There are many organizations that are fighting for specific bird species.
Make a donation!
Albatrosses - Birdlife
International and theAmerican
Loro Parque Fundación
the intiatives highlighted on this website by sending e-mails and letters
protesting government actions:
Help save the Yellow-eared
Parrot in Colombia
Stop the annual hunting
disaster in Malta
Save Long Valley
in Hong Kong
Protect the habitat
of the Little Tern in Japan
Stop Club Med from
destroying the last remaining enclave of the Northern Bald Ibis in Morocco
Help protect the
main wintering grounds for the Baikal Teal in Korea
can do it!