Extinct Bird 3 Letters
Extinct Bird 3 Letters – Most of the extinctions were caused by deforestation in South America, a new study of endangered birds shows
The Brazilian Spix’s macaw, as seen in the children’s film Rio, is one of the eight endangered birds Photo: Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation
Extinct Bird 3 Letters
Spix’s macaw, a brilliant blue species of Brazilian parrot that starred in the children’s animation Rio, became extinct this century, according to a new assessment of endangered birds.
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The macaw is one of eight species, including the poo-uli, the Pernambuco pygmy owl and the cryptic tree hunter, that could be added to the growing list of confirmed or highly probable extinction, according to a new statistical analysis by BirdLife International.
Historically, most bird extinctions have been small island species vulnerable to hunting or invasive species, but five of these new extinctions occurred in South America and are attributed by scientists to deforestation.
Stuart Butchart, BirdLife International’s chief scientist, said the new study highlights that an extinction crisis is now unfolding on large continents, driven by human habitat destruction.
“People think of extinctions and think of the dodo, but our analysis shows that extinctions are continuing and accelerating today,” he said. “Historically 90% of bird extinctions have been small populations on remote islands. Our evidence shows that there is a growing wave of extinctions washing across the continent driven by habitat loss from unsustainable agriculture, drainage and logging.
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More than 26,000 of the world’s species are now threatened, according to the latest “red list” assessment, with scientists warning that humans are driving a sixth major extinction event.
Four of the eight newly identified bird extinctions occurred in Brazil, once home to Spix’s macaw. The attractive parrot was poached and traded for 150 years before any wild populations were discovered, but in 1985 three birds were found in a Brazilian forest. Two were captured illegally for the animal trade, and attempts to breed the last male were unsuccessful. A 2016 sighting in the wild is now believed to have been an escaped caged bird, leaving the last known sighting in 2000.
While captive populations of the Spix’s macaw are being bred for reintroduction into the restored woodland habitat, there is no second chance for the poo-uli, the cryptic tree hunter and the Alagoas leaf-gleaner: they have disappeared from the sky forever.
According to the new analysis, published in Biological Conservation, the Alagoas leaf-gleaner, a small ginger forest bird that takes invertebrates from leaves, went extinct in 2011, disappearing from a heavily logged patch of Brazil.
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The cryptic tree hunter was only discovered in two forest patches of Murici in northeastern Brazil in 2002, but has not been seen since 2007 after these small forests fell and were replaced by sugar cane plantations and pastures.
The poo-uli, or black-faced honeycreeper, was found on the island of Maui in Hawaii, but was last seen in 2004.
The study by BirdLife International assessed 51 species assessed as “critically endangered” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List, using a new statistical method to analyze and evaluate search efforts and Validity of species on the brink of extinction. .
It found just one species that was less endangered than feared, and recommended removing the “possibly extinct” classification of New Caledonia’s Moorea Reed Warbler. Of the eight species reclassified as extinct, four are “critically endangered (possibly extinct)”.
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They include the glaucous macaw, once found in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, before the destruction of its palm grove habitat for agriculture saw it decline to a population in Paraguay. Another is the Pernambuco pygmy owl, a 15cm insect-eating owl that has not been seen since 2002 in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco, with much of its habitat destroyed by illegal logging.
Accurate assessments of the moment of extinction are difficult to make with many fleeting species, but according to Butchart, the “possibly extinct” classification is an extremely cautious judgment that almost certainly means the species has disappeared.
Butchart said it was important not to prematurely declare a bird extinct because abandoning conservation efforts could hasten its decline, but accurate assessments of extinction were vital to efficient conservation work. “We have limited conservation resources, so we need to spend them wisely and effectively. If some of these species are gone, we need to redirect those resources to those that remain.
“Of course, it is too late to help some of these iconic species, but because we know birds better than any other taxonomic class, we know which other species are most at risk. We hope that this study will inspire a redoubled effort to to prevent other extinctions. Researchers estimate that this giant parrot would have weighed more than 15 pounds. Small vines called Kuiornis, which were also in New Zealand at the time, sit on the parrot’s feet.
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More than 16 million years ago in what is now New Zealand, a giant bird died and sank to the bottom of a lake. Preserved in layers of sand and gray-blue clay, the bones of this behemoth have since been uncovered, which is now the largest parrot known to science.
Of the 350 parrot species living today, the heaviest is the Kakapo, a flightless bird also native to New Zealand. But the extinct parrot, called Heracles inexpectatus, shatters the kakapo’s record: Described from two fossilized leg bones, the bird would have weighed 15 pounds and stood about three feet tall.
That’s big enough to “take the belly button out of your belly button,” says Michael Archer, a paleontologist at the University of New South Wales in Australia, who is part of the team describing the foundation today in the journal Biology Letters. .
“The [kakapo] is such an oddity, so it’s amazing to think that maybe it was part of a larger group of these flightless parrots that lived in New Zealand,” says Alison Boyer, an ecologist at the University of Tennessee, which was not. involved with the study.
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Researchers discovered the large bird fossils in 2008 in St Bathans, a former mining town situated on top of an extinct lake. The site has preserved rich fossil deposits from the early Miocene epoch, including plants, crocodiles, bats, and dozens of birds.
“Most of the specimens in the St Bathans fauna – more than 6,000 identifiable bird bones – are quite small,” says study leader Trevor Worthy, a paleontologist at Flinders University in Australia.
Therefore, the large tibiotarsi, or drumsticks, of this bird stood out. For the next 10 years, the bones sat on a shelf with other presumed eagle bones from the St Bathans site, until a graduate student realized they were not actually from ancient eagles.
“It was completely unexpected and very novel,” says Worthy. “If I had convinced myself it was a parrot, then of course I had to convince the world.”
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Worthy and his team compared the leg bones to specimens and online images from various museums to narrow down the list of potential species. Psittaciformes, the order that includes parrots and cockatoos, rose to the top.
“Based on what they were able to show here, it’s compelling,” says Boyer. “Parrots have a rather distinctive morphology.”
The research team then estimated the size of the bird based on the circumference of the leg bone. Their equation does not take into account the particular posture that a parrot has compared to birds in other families, says Helen James, curator of birds at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, who was not on the team. But even if her estimate is not perfect, she agrees that this bird would have been exceptionally large for a parrot.
“It blows my mind,” says Andrew Digby, a conservation biologist with the New Zealand Department of Conservation who was not involved with the study. Digby works to protect the kakapo, which has teetered on the brink of extinction since the early 1900s.
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The critically endangered kakapo provides some clues as to what the giant parrot ate and how it moved. Only 189 kakapo live in the wild today, up from a low of 51 birds in 1995.
“Whenever someone sees a kakapo for the first time, the first thing they almost always say is, Wow, it’s a lot bigger than I thought it would be,” says Digby. A kakapo “can be aggressive if they want to. My eyes widen a little when I think about one twice the size. It could be quite formidable.”
“When you think about how intelligent parrots are, that’s scary,” adds study coauthor Suzanne Hand, a paleontologist at the University of New South Wales.
With only two leg bones in hand, many details about the behavior of this bird remain unknown. The hinge and other small clues on the end of the bones suggest that the giant parrot could not climb or fly – Herakles most likely stayed on the forest floor.
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It is possible that the large parrot survived only on the vegetation it could reach, says Digby. Moa, giant ground-dwelling birds that became extinct soon after humans arrived