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Gone forever (abstract of human stupidity) II | by Bárbol
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Gone forever (abstract of human stupidity) II

This is a continuation of the previous extinct birds plate in


The species represented here are:


1. Alaotra grebe (Tachybaptus rufolarvatus)

This small waterfowl was endemic to lake Alaotra in Madagascar and have the sad "honour" of be the last bird declared extinct. Last record was in 1985 and the bird was declared extinct in march 2010, before that, the last declared extinct bird was the po'o-uli, treated in this same plate (number 5). Form this bird exist only one photograph of an alive bird. Causes of extinction are habitat destruction and introduced predatory fishes. Also hybridation with the widespread Little Grebe (T. ruficollis) played, but as this alwas happened before human destruction of Madagascar, this last fact only can damage a previously damaged population. In the Lake Alaotra also lives an endemic pochard (Aythya innotata) that was declared extinct, but in 2006 I readed that it was rediscovered alive so my hopes for the grebe aumented. However the grebe don't had the same luck as the pochard.


2. Red-moustached fruit dove (Ptilinopus mercierii)

This pigeon, as colorful as other fruit doves, lived once in Marquesas islands in Polynesia. This bird had two different subspecies but both are extinct now. It was extinct due to predators introduced by humans: owls, cats and rats.


3. Crested shelduck (Tadorna cristata)

This magnific duck lived in eastern Asia. Last reliable record was in 1964 although many sight was reported in recent times, so is slightly possible that the bird is not extinct. Direct hunt and habitat loss are the causes of its extinction.


4. Red rail (Aphanapteryx bonasia)

One more of the many Mauritius bird that, as the dodo, was killed after the discovery of the Western Indian Ocean islands by occidental explorers. Rails (family Rallidae) seems to have one of the highest tendence to extinction, probably because many are reluctant to fly, or even unable (the Red Rail was flightless), as well as sensitive to habitat destruction and often chased for food. Red Rail was known from bones, old paintings and descriptions. It was discovered around 1600 and it't known than a number to alive ones was brought to Europe. This bird was extinct by direct hunt for food. Also introduced pigs helped, eating eggs and chicks. Around 1700 the bird was disappeared.


5. Po'o-uli (Melamprosops phaeosoma)

This is the last bird species to die with an exact extinction date, the 28th November 2004. As many other Hawaiian honeycreepers (Drepanididae), that became extinct or are being extincted now, this bird suffered a lot the diseases caused by introduced mosquitoes in Hawaii. It was discovered in 1973 with a population estimated of 200 individuals, but in 2002 only three birds left, one female was captured and brought to a zone where lived the last male. But the female flew away to her own territory in next day. In 2004 was planned to capture the three birds and bring to a recovering center. So the male was captured and brough to the center, but none female could be captured before the male died of avian malaria, three months after captured. Probably these two females died too.


6. Bonin grosbeak (Chaunoproctus ferreorostris)

This finch was seen only in Chichi-jima island in the Bonin Islands (Japan). Discovered in 1827, three years after the island was used by whale killers, and in 1854 an expedition don't found the bird anymore, that probably died because of the introduced predators and other destructive animals: pigs, rats, dogs, goats, sheep and cats. Like the Bonin Thrush (Zoothera terrestris), the bird disappeared from these islands, and then, from the world. Now we count with about 10 taxidermy specimens.


7. Bachman's warbler (Vermivora bachmani)

A small colorful insectivorous from North America that was not seen since 1988. Probably is extinct due to habitat destruction, but as recently as in 2002 a female bird was filmed in Cuba and could belong to this species.


8. Carolina parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis)

Almost as well known as the dodo between extinct birds, due to its North American origin and the dramatic, almost impossible to believe, human stupidness of its extinction. This beautiful parrot was the only North American parrot, living even in temperate climates. Flocks of thousands of birds flew in the past in the sky, feeding overall in the fruits of Xanthium strumarium, an invasive weed that grows in cultivation fields. But the humans saw the parakeets in these fields and authomatically thinked that the bird feeds on the plants that they grow, instead of the weeds. So a giant persecution started and farmers killes thousands and thousands of this bird every day. Parrots are amongst most intelligent birds and they have personality and strong feelings. When Carolina parakeets are shot and killed, other parakeets go close to the died bodies trying to reanimate, in an unusual solidary behaviour. Then the farmers kill them more and more and more parakeets come to cry for the deads and are killed again attracting more parakeets etc... this never stop until last parakeet was killed. Last wild Carolina parakeet was killed in 1904, and captive ones lived a bit more, last individual in the world, "Incas", died in Cincinnati zoo in 21th February 1918, while the last female, "Lady Jane", died a year before in same zoo. "Incas" died in the same enclosure than the last Passenger Pigeon (number 13), died four years before. This parakeet breeded very well in captivity and much more could have been done for keep them in worlds zoos. Other causes of extinction was destruction of forest and introduction of european Honey Bee, that takes the nesting places.


9. Labrador duck (Camptorhynchus labradorius)

This marine duck of North America had a lifestyle similar to the eiders, harliquin ducks and scoters. The last sight was on 1878, three years before the last preserved individual was shooted. Causes of extinction are not clear, hunt for food is a reason but the bird is reported that don't tastes good. Collectong of eggs and killing for feathers can also be a reason, as well as decreasing of some mollusks by overcollecting.


10. Guam flycatcher (Myiagra freycineti)

I choosed this bird because I found good photos of them alive, beucase it's extinction is very recent. The only cause of it's extinction is the introduction of a predator, the Brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis) . Last sight of this bird was in 1983.


11. Raiatea parakeet (Cyanoramphus ulietanus)

Like some other parakeets in this genus, C. ulietanus is gone. It was endemic to Raiatea island in Polynesia. This bird is only known by two collected specimens, and was not seen anymore after 1773. Probably it disappeared due to forest destruction, direct hunt and introduced predators.


12. Pink-headed duck (Rhodonessa caryophyllacea)

This atonishing duck from India is extinct since 1950's. Always was a rare bird and no much is known about it, probably its evanishing is due to habitat destruction. Last shooted individual was on 1935. Exist a photo of several alive pink-headed ducks in captivity in Foxwarren Park, England, taken about 1925.


13. Passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius)

Probably the most famous extinct bird after the dodo. Similar to Carolina Parakeet in their distribution, habits, and way and date of extinction. Passenger pigeons formed the largest bird focks ever, that can reach even more than TWO BILLION birds!!!!!! The flocks destroy branches with its weight. Despite that, now we don't have none more than taxidermy specimens. The birds was first chased as a cheap meat for slaves and poors, decreasing quickly the number of pigeons, and forest destruction deleted the pigeons habitat. Last wild bird was seen on 1900, and "Martha", the last passenger pigeon, died in Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.

Much more info at


14. Greater akialoa (Hemignathus ellisianus)

As is said in number 5, and in the other plate about the Mamo (Drepanis pacifica), the Hawaiian honeycreepers (Drepanididae) lost many species and many are disappearing now, and the major cause are the diseases transmited by introduced mosquitoes. The genus Hemignathus count with several olivaceous medium-sized birds with long curved bills, some of them still alive, but mainly extinct. The greater Akialoa was the one with longest bill. It had three subspecies, all of them extinct. Between all subspecies it inhabited islands of Oahu, Lanai, Molokai and Maui. Last record was in 1969, in Kauai. Like other Drpanididae, this species disappeared due to diseases and habitat destruction.


15. Robust white-eye (Zosterops strenuus)

This bird was endemic to Lord Howe island, near Australia. Probably it disappeared due to the introduction of black rats in the island. In 1923, the bird was extinct. Another species of white-eye, Zosterops lateralis, are still alive, but the subspecies of Lord Howe island is threatened.


16. Slender moa (Dinornis giganteus)

Moas are some of the most fascinating extinct birds. They formed a family of about 12 species of giant flightless birds endemic to New Zealands. The smallest species, Euryapteryx curtus, is not bigger than a chicken, while the biggest, Dinornis giganteus, was the tallest bird ever in human times, more than 3 meters high. Almost all moas was extinct when first Maoris arrived to New Zealand, coming from Polynesian. At least three species: Dinornis robustus, Emeus crassus and Megalapteryx didinus, passed the frontier of the XVI century, and was probably seen by the first Europeans that arrived to the islands in XVII century. Moas evolved in the island due to absence of any large mammal, and was predated by the also extinct Haas't eagle (Harpagornis moorei) before Maoris extincted this eagle.

Moas was scarce even before the arrival of Maoris to New Zealand, and maybe they could be extinct now without human help.

Moas are similar to Kiwis because they lost completely the wings. Is supposed that Kiwis are the closest living relatives. Several bones of many species was founs, as well as some feathers, and even a mummified head of Megalapteryx didinus.

Here can be seen a size comparison between skeletons of Ostrich, the largest living bird, and Dinornis giganteus.,_ostrich,_Dinornis.jpg


17 Ryukyu wood pigeon (Columba jouyi)

This nice bird was endemic of Okinawa islands in Japan. It was extinct due to habitat destruction. Last record of this species is on 1904. If any remaining bird left, the complete destruction of the forest of these islands by milician settlement prerpairing for World War II, destroyed for sure the last of these pigeons.


18. Liverpool pigeon (Caloenas maculata)

This amazing creature is known by only two taxdermy individuals, one of which is lost, the other is conserved in Liverpool Pigeon and without any kind of location data. Pressumably it was collected in South East Asia, where lives the only close relative today, the Nicobar Pigeon.


19. Oahu O'o (Moho apicalis)

Moho is a fantastic genus with 4 species endemic to Hawaii islands, all of theme are already extinct. The O'os species are black, with long and curved bill, yellow plumes in the body and a strange tail. As in Hawaiian honeycreepers (see number 5 and 14), these true honeyeaters (Meliphagidae) suffered the diseases transmited by introduced mosquitoes, as well as habitat destruction, and direct chase for feathers. The Oahu o's (Moho apicalis) was extinct in 1837, the Molokai o's (M. bishopi) in 1904, the Hawaii o'o (M. nobilis) in 1934 and the Kauai o'o (M. braccatus) in 1987.


20. Mauritius blue pigeon (Alectroenas nitidissima)

The history is repeated among all these Mauritius, Comores and Seychelles birds. The dodo is the most famous but much more birds of the tropical western Indian Ocean islands was gone at same time. Only three taxidermy specimens rest now. Last specimen shooted was in 1826 and is one of the three remaining stuffed specimens, probably the species only lived few years more. Habitat destruction, direct hunt, and predation by introduced monkeys are probably the causes of extinction.


21. Atitlan grebe (Podilymbus gigas)

This bird, very similar to the common and widespread Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) but much bigger and unable to fly, was restricted only to the Atitlan lake in Guatemala. Probably it have the most well documented history of decline and extinction between birds. It also count with the best photo ever made to an alive specimen of an extinct bird now. Causes of extinction are destruction of the nesting areas, introduction of large predatory fishes that compited with the adults for food and chased the chicks, and an earthquacke that reduced the water level of the lake in 1976. The last two birds were seen in 1989.


22. Red-headed macaw (Ara erythrocephala)

As said in the other plate for Ara atwoodi, this is only one of the many extinct macaws of the Caribbean islands. Like other macaws, this one from Jamaica is hypothetical due to the lack of reliable registers: it's known only by descriptions. Probably it was hunted for foor and as pet until extinction in early XIX century.


23. Choiseul pigeon (Microgoura meeki)

This atonishing bird, as his name says, resembles very much a miniature version of the New Guinean crowned pigeons, Goura spp. It lived on Choiseul island in the Solomon Islands. In 1904 six individuals and an egg was collected and sent to a museum. Causes of extinction are human hunt and predation by introduced cats and dogs.


Many more species of birds was extinct by humans between XVI and XXI centuries. This and the other plate are only a small part. Since XVII century the number of extinct birds is of 165. And this is only birds! Counting other animals, plants, fungus, etc. a species are disappearing now EVERY 15 SECONDS!!!!


Much more birds species are evanishing now and will do in the future. We must put as many effort as we can for protect them.

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Uploaded on October 3, 2010