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Extinct Birds - An Introduction

Updated on June 30, 2014

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.

Extinct Boids by Ralph Steadman and Ceri Levy. Buy on Amazon.

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

Extinct Birds (Poyser Monographs)
Extinct Birds (Poyser Monographs)

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.

Extinct Birds (Poyser Monographs)
Extinct Birds (Poyser Monographs)

This is the hardcover edition of the book reviewed above. You can also get the Kindle one above.

Hope Is the Thing with Feathers: A Personal Chronicle of Vanished Birds
Hope Is the Thing with Feathers: A Personal Chronicle of Vanished Birds

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.

Extinct Boids
Extinct Boids

Ralph Steadman's take on extinct birds - if you love his art, this one is for you.

Extinct Birds
Extinct Birds

A good general illustrated guide, with several very positive reviews from satisfied customers.

The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America (Stokes Field Guides)
The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America (Stokes Field Guides)

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.

Great Auk

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

Carolina Parakeet

Carolina Parakeet
Carolina Parakeet

Some Further Information Sources

There are a huge number of websites with useful information. These are just a selection:

Are You a Bird Fan Too?

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Here in Australia, we have several species in danger of extinction. Zoos Victoria are doing their best to breed them.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Its too bad that any birds have become extinct. They are such nice creatures to have around. :)

    • Fiorenza profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from UK

      @Cynthia Haltom: Thanks Chaltom. You might like my Dodo article in that case - that one took ages to research and write!

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 

      5 years ago from Diamondhead

      You really did a lot of good research. This was a very interesting lens, I can't wait to share it with my husband.

    • suepogson profile image


      5 years ago

      I am lucky enough to live in the countryside and am surrounded by birds. It is so sad that we do so much damage. I fist learned about the passenger pigeon in a book by Gerald Durrell and at least we can take hope from the legacy he left, and the work of others, that there are people fighting on behalf of fauna and flora facing extinction. The was a sobering but interesting read. Thank you.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I like Cardinals!

    • wildbluefrontier profile image

      Nathan M 

      5 years ago from Tucson

      It's a shame that we've lost all these birds. I especially would have liked to have seen the Carolina Parakeet in the wild or at all really.

    • JohnTannahill profile image

      John Tannahill 

      5 years ago from Somewhere in England

      I do have an interest in birds. On a positive note, it's good to see how many endangered species are recovering with or without help from man. We had a great white egret down in a park near us over the winter. The little egrets are starting to become quite common in the East of England too.

    • Fiorenza profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from UK

      @Lady Lorelei: I didn't grow up in the countryside but we still had quite a lot of birds in town then and I've always loved them, and put food and water out for them especially in winter. It is very sad about the constant news of environmental degradation, habitat loss and needless destruction of nature.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      5 years ago from Canada

      I grew up in the country so birds and wildlife are very near and dear my heart. I find in heartbreaking that man and nature cannot live in greater harmony.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 

      6 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      That's so sad about the Great Auk!!


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