With its unique features, the Strigops habroptila is one of the most interesting birds of the world. It is large and flightless, nocturnal and ground-dwelling. The kakapo is endemic to New Zealand where its population is highly threatened by massive deforestation, hunting by humans, and predation by introduced species. The indigenous Māoris hunted the bird extensively for its meat and feathers. Following the arrival of the Europeans to New Zealand, introduced species like cats and rats in the kakapo habitats led to large-scale predation of these birds by these animals. As of 2016, the population of kakapos was down to only 154 surviving individuals. Conservation activities are in full swing to conserve the kakapo in its native habitat and two islands of Fiordland have been reserved for kakapo conservation.
17. Red-vented Cockatoo
The Cacatua haematuropygia, a critically endangered species, is endemic to the Philippines. The bird has suffered a rapid population decline due to habitat loss and capture for the cagebird trade. However, conservation efforts in the past few decades have helped check the population reduction of these birds to a certain extent. Currently, there are about 650 to 1,120 individuals of this species surviving in the wild.
16. Yellow-crested Cockatoo
The Cacatua sulphurea is found in East Timor and some islands of Indonesia. Like other species on this list, the yellow-crested cockatoo is also on the brink of extinction. The bird lives in the forested habitats of its range. The global population of this bird is estimated to be less than 1,000 to 2,499 mature individuals. International trade in the species and large-scale deforestation are both responsible for the decline of the species. Illegal trapping of this bird still continues in some parts of its range.
15. Puerto Rican Amazon
Endemic to Puerto Rico, the Amazona vittata was once widespread in the forested parts of the island. However, the loss of forests, hunting for pest control and food, and capture for the cage-bird trade led to a drastic loss of population of this species. By 1975, there were only 13 individuals of this species surviving in the wild. Realizing that the species was nearly finished, conservationists launched a vigorous campaign to save the bird and captive breeding programs followed by the release of birds in the wild, helped recover the population of this beautiful parrot to a certain extent. Presently, the bird survives in the El Yunque National Forest and has a range reduced to only 0.2% of its historical range.
14. Glaucous Macaw
The Anodorhynchus glaucus was formerly widespread in parts of Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina. However, the population of this species started falling since the 19th century and by the 20th century, hardly any confirmed reports about the existence of this bird were recorded. Although it is generally treated as an extinct bird, rumors of recent sightings and local accounts indicate that the glaucous macaw might not have completely vanished. However, even if these birds survive, the populations are not expected to comprise of more than 50 individuals. The large-scale loss of palm groves and gallery forests, and the growth of human settlement near the rivers where the glaucous macaw lives are the primary reasons that have caused the species to nearly disappear. Also, the capture of these birds to be kept as pets have adversely impacted their survival in the wild.
13. Blue-throated Macaw
The Ara glaucogularis is also one of the most threatened parrots of the world today. This species suffers from large-scale loss of habitat and illegal trade for the exotic pet market. The birds were also indiscriminately hunted in the past by locals who used their feathers to produce vibrant headgear. The bird is endemic to Bolivia where there are two subpopulations, the northern and the southern ones. Currently, the population of this bird is estimated to be around 50 to 249 individuals only.
12. Red-throated Lorikeet
The Charmosyna amabilis is endemic to Fiji and is mainly found in mature forests in its habitat. Four surveys for the lorikeet were conducted between 2001 and 2012 but all of them failed to detect a single bird. The species is thus possibly extinct or if it survives, the remaining population is likely to be very small (less than 50). Predation by introduced species and habitat destruction are two of the major factors responsible for pushing the species to the brink of extinction.
11. Sinú Parakeet
The Pyrrhura subandina, although labeled as a critically endangered species by the IUCN, is possibly extinct. Even if the bird still survives, its population is estimated to be below 50. The bird is known to live in northern Colombia’s Sinú Valley. Little has been studied about this species which is among the “most wanted lost” species of the world.
10. Grey-breasted Parakeet
The Pyrrhura griseipectus belongs to Psittacidae family. It is endemic to Brazil’s Ceará where it lives in restricted habitats of woodlands and humid forests. There is some controversy regarding the recognition of this bird as a separate species since a section of researchers regard it as a subspecies of the white-eared parakeet. Less than 250 adult birds survive in the wild today.
9. Orange-bellied Parrot -
The Neophema chrysogaster is found only in southern Australia. It is one of the three parrot species that exhibit a migratory behavior. These birds breed in Tasmania and migrate to the coasts of southern mainland Australia during the winters. This species is one of the most threatened parrots in the world and suffers from habitat degradation and fragmentation, competition with introduced species, predation by introduced species, diseases, and a variety of other threats. Currently, the species is labeled as Critically Endangered by the IUCN.
8. Fuertes's Parrot -
The Hapalopsittaca fuertesi lives on the western slopes of the Central Andes of Colombia. Although the species was believed to have become extinct, a rediscovery of the species on a volcanic slope in Colombia in 2002 raised hopes about the existence of this species in other parts of its range.
7. Swift Parrot -
The Lathamus discolor also breeds in Tasmania and migrated during winter to mainland Australia. The swift parrot lives in a wide variety of habitats including forests, woodlands, plantations, and even urban areas. Researchers have estimated that the species might become extinct by 2031 if the population continues to decline at the present rate. Loss of habitat, especially the old trees with hollows where these birds nest, threaten the survival of the species.
6. Coxen's Fig Parrot -
The Cyclopsitta diophthalma coxeni is a subspecies of double-eyed fig parrot. Little is known about this parrot whose range is restricted to parts of New South Wales and Queensland. The bird lives in subtropical rainforests with fig trees. The clearance of these forests for agriculture and human settlements, and logging activities is the biggest threat to the survival of this parrot. Food is scarce for these birds in their fragmented habitat. It is estimated that not more than 100 mature individuals of this subspecies survive in the wild.
5. Malherbe's Parakeet -
Another highly threatened species of parrot, the Cyanoramphus malherbi, lives only in New Zealand. It is found in four islands of New Zealand and in some valleys of South Island. A massive increase in rat and stoat populations on South Island led to a dramatic decline in the Malherbe's parakeet’s population since 2000. Habitat fragmentation and destruction and hunting were some of the other factors responsible for the birds current threatened status. Only about a 100 birds survive in the wild today.
4. Spix's Macaw -
Cyanopsitta spixii is native to Brazil where it is highly dependent on the Tabebuia aurea trees for feeding, roosting, and nesting. However, due to indiscriminate deforestation in its restricted range and specialized habitat, the populations of this bird have plummeted sharply over the past few decades. Although IUCN labels the species as Critically Endangered, it is possibly extinct in the wild. Sightings of this bird are extremely rare. Conservationists are trying to revive the populations of the Spix's macaw with the help of captive breeding programs. Some success has been achieved to date.
3. Blue-fronted Lorikeet -
The Charmosyna toxopei is endemic to Buru, an island in Indonesia. The species has also suffered from habitat destruction and hunting by humans. Currently, two protected areas on the island aim to conserve the bird in its native habitat.
2. New Caledonian Lorikeet -
The Charmosyna diadema, endemic to New Caledonia, is a potentially extinct species. Very little is known about this bird due to its inconspicuous and nomadic nature. Scattered reports of sightings of this bird exist dispersed over a long period of time. If any population of this bird does exist, it is estimated to be less than 50 individuals. Habitat destruction, introduced diseases like avian malaria, and predation by introduced species like rats may have led to the decline in the population of this species.
1. Blue-winged Racket Tail -
The Prioniturus verticalis is endemic to Philippines’ Tawi-Tawi island. Rapid habitat loss and degradation due to mining, farming, and other human activities, has restricted the range of this species from all the islands of the Sulu Archipelago to small pockets on the Tawi-Tawi. The bird inhabits mangrove forests and moist lowland forests in its range. The bird’s tame nature also makes it highly susceptible to capture for the illegal pet trade involving exotic birds. It is estimated that only about 50 to 249 of the blue-winged racket tail remains in the wild today.
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