Extinct Birds - An Introduction
Birds We Have Lost
Many birds have become extinct over the past few centuries, mainly due to over-exploitation, destruction of habitat, the introduction of other animals that out-compete or prey on them, or a combination of all three calamities.
As this is a big subject, sadly, I will give a very brief introduction in this article, and hope to follow up with a series on some of these lost birds. I'll add a link to each of those in the bulleted list below.
Some Lost Birds
This list is far from exhaustive. It just includes a few of the special birds no longer with us. I expect to add more birds to it as I am able to develop my articles.
- Dodo - I've written an article about the extinction of the Dodo.
- Great Auk - see the picture featured later in this article.
- Passenger Pigeon - for an artist's impression of the vast flocks that covered the skies, see the cover of the book by Michael Walters and Julian Hume below.
- Carolina Parakeet - see a picture later in this article.
- Labrador Duck
- Seychelles Parakeet
- Laughing Owl
- Heath Hen - heathland bird of North America, which may have been the bird eaten at the first Thanksgiving, rather than the turkey
The One Essential Volume
If you are keen to read about the subject and don't mind delving into a quite scholarly tome which still manages to be intelligible to the general reader, this book is the must-have on the subject. It is co-written by Julian Hume, whose very useful article on the extinction of the Dodo is available on the Internet. This is the Kindle version, which is cheaper than the hardover (also available on Amazon).
More Reading .... - From Amazon
Here is a selection of the books currently available on Amazon.
This is the hardcover edition of the book reviewed above. You can also get the Kindle one above.
This one sounds interesting, named after a line from an Emily Dickinson poem and telling the story of six extinct North American birds. I would like to read this.
Ralph Steadman's take on extinct birds - if you love his art, this one is for you.
A good general illustrated guide, with several very positive reviews from satisfied customers.
This one's about the North American birds that still exist. Has some very positive reviews from readers and shows the beautiful creatures we should treasure and help.
More Extinct Birds Merchandise
You can get stamps, prints and more on eBay.
Birds Need Our Help
The most recent survey (2012) by Birdlife identified 1,313 bird species under threat of extinction - that's 1 in every 8 species.
This is the Great Auk from the Natural History Museum in London, England. The last one was bludgeoned to death in July 1840 by men who thought it was a witch and had called up a storm.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia, Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic Licence
Some Further Information Sources
There are a huge number of websites with useful information. These are just a selection:
- Birdlife International
Birdlife International provides a huge amount of information. Thanks to them for the answers to the Quiz!
- Wikipedia's List of Extinct Birds
This Wikipedia article gives an overview with many links to other articles about individual birds.
- Rare photographs of 12 Extinct Birds
Some haunting photographs of birds who have succumbed in modern times, some only in the last few decades.
- 50 Birds
This site has some interesting notes and images of extinct creatures, and provided the picture of the Carolina Parakeet above.
- Scientists Name the 100 Most Endangered Birds
A recent article from The Guardian newspaper, listing the top 100 most endangered birds.