(adjective) Describes a species that is no longer living when there is no reasonable doubt that live representatives of the species do not exist. There are many factors that can cause birds' extinction, including habitat loss, climate change, hunting or poaching, disease and the introduction of invasive predators. It can be difficult to determine if a bird species is extinct, however, because rare, endangered birds may be extremely reclusive or could occupy isolated, unmonitored ranges and it is hard to verify if they continue to exist. It often takes decades after the final sighting of a live wild bird known to be threatened before it may be declared extinct.
Birds can also be considered “extinct in the wild” if all known remaining members of the species are captured, typically as part of conservation or captive breeding programs. With enough genetic variation, it is possible to save an extinct in the wild species by eventually reintroducing captive-bred birds back to their native habitat, though further decades would be necessary to ensure the species thrives after its reintroduction. This is the process that has saved the California condor from extinction, though its struggle is far from over.
Hundreds of bird species have gone extinct, including many spectacular examples of extinction as a result of human influences such as hunting or predator introduction. Popular and once numerous birds that are now extinct include the passenger pigeon, Carolina parakeet, Labrador duk, great auk and dodo. A modern bird hovering on the edge of extinction is th ivory-billed woodpecker, which despite unconfirmed sightings in 2004, has not been recorded in the wild since the 1940s.
Photo – Dodo Museum Display © Jeremy Burgin
ihk-STEENKT or ehk-STEENKT
Nonextant, Died Out