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Birds that have become extinct during the past fifty years

Updated on November 10, 2016
TessSchlesinger profile image

Globetrotter, author, and thinker with interests in environment, minimalism, health, dancing, architecture, décor, politics, and science.

Reasons why birds are becoming extinct

Birds, like many other animals, are becoming extinct. Of the 10,000 different species of birds known during the past 500 years, some 1200 have either become extinct or are in the process of becoming extinct. The rate of extinction is increasing, with Hawaii having lost some thirty percent of her bird species during the last century as a result of encroaching human population and Guam which has lost sixty percent of its bird population as a result of a brown tree snake been (inadvertently) introduced into the environment. Herewith a list of some of the birds that have become extinct during the past half century.

The Po’o-uli from Hawaii - 2004

This bird was last seen in 2004 and is believed to have become extinct. Ironically, it was only discovered n 1973 by some University of Hawaii students. It lived very high above sea level on the slopes of the volcano in Maui. The tragic part of its demise is that it was unique in that it belonged to a particular group of birds who have all long gone to the extinction god in the sky (Hawaiian honeycreepers). There are no other living or fossilized birds had the same or similar structure to it

Photo of Po’o-uli

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Alaotra Grebe from Madagascar - 2010

It died as a result of its habitat being destroyed by human beings. As tourism increased around the lakes, buildings appeared, and this little rusty coloured bird went the way of the dodo. It was last seen in 1985 and officially declared extinct in 2010.

Extinct Bird: AlaotraGrebe

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Guadalupe Storm Petrel - 2000

The Petrel used to live at sea. Its home was Guadalupe Island which was off the coast of Baja California in Mexico. As it only bred on this island, as tourism and human beings encroached, numbers became fewer and fewer, and in the year 2000, it was declared extinct.

Thick-billed Ground Dove - 2005

While the last of this species was last seen in 1927, it was only officially declared extinct in 2005. The reason for this is that before any bird can be declared extinct, long searches are made for it. Bird scientists go to the known habitat of the bird and spend some years searching for it.

Oahu creeper - 1990

The colourful little finch has not been seen in its natural habitat on Oahu (Hawaii Island) since 1985. it is presumed extinct as a result of avian malaria.

Extinct Finch

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Norfolk White Eye

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Norfolk White Eye


This small bird lived on Norfolk island, between New Calidonia and New Zealand. Like many birds, it only nested in one place and that was on Mount Pitt of the island. The female laid two eggs between October and December, with incubation lasting under two weeks. Within another two weeks, the birds were adults.

When the Silvereye bird was introduced to the island, it usurped the space and food chain of the Norfolk White Eye. By 1978, only four birds were seen, and the Australian government declared it extinct in 2000.

Arabian ostrich - 1966

This bird used to be hunted for sport and meat. Its habitat used to be the Arabian Desert and the Middle East and by 1966, the last of them had been eaten. According to wiki, as hunting became easier with the introduction of guns, increasing numbers were shot. The advent of cars and roads also made inroads into their environment. On rare occasions, some of their eggs are found, but they never hatched.

Hunting the Arabian ostrich in Palestine in 1877

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Dusky Seaside Sparrow from Florida - 1990

The exact date a bird goes extinct is seldom known, but in the case of the dusky seaside sparrow, it was 17th June, 1987. Or so says Wiki.

In order to eradicate the mosquito population around the Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island was flooded, and the breeding grounds of this particular sparrow were all but destroyed. In addition, when the marshes were drained in order to build a road, and pesticides were deployed to get rid of other bugs, there really wasn't much left for the birds to feed on. The last female was sighted in 1975 and the last six males in 1979. Essentially, whatever remaining land they had was depleted and the sparrow disappeared into oblivion.

Dusky Seaside Sparrow photo

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Guam Flycatcher

Its local name is quite unpronounceable - chuguangguang. It used to be a very common bird in Guam and was seen quite frequently until the mid 70s. By that time, the effect of the invasive Brown Tree Snake had diminished about sixty percent of Guam's bird population. The Guam Flycatcher was one of them, last seen in 1983. It is believed to be extinct as so many of the other bird species became extinct.

The Brown Tree Snake was introduced carelessly/accidentally as a result of military traffic between the 50s and the 70s.

Brown Tree Snake

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Ten Extinct Birds video

Bush Wren from Maori - 1972

Once upon a time, they were endemic to New Zealand. However the problem with birds that don't fly is that they might become prey to man far faster than they would have otherwise. Its nests, unlike other birds, were not in trees, but on, or near, the ground. When man became a frequent visitor to the island, they brought rats, badgers, weasels, and other mammals with them. As a result, the last of them were seen in 1968 at the Nelson Lakes National Parks.

The extinct Bushwren

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Do you miss the birds you used to see?

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More and more species are becoming extinct. We are currently living through the 6th great extinction. Perhaps it's time for us to learn to value the bird life around us. The way things are going, they won't always be there.

© 2015 Tessa Schlesinger

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