Extinct birds

Like mammals, the rate of bird extinction has been increasing with the continued expansion of of humanity, following the industrial revolution. One might assume that birds are generally more adaptable to different conditions, and this is true of many species.

The birds that tend to be most affected are island species. These bird species have often evolved without large predators, and so may become less fearful, larger and flightless. Those traits make them important specimens of biodiversity. The same traits are also a death sentence once humans arrive.

Pink-headed duck

Pink-headed duck

The Pink-headed duck was a slim, brightly coloured diving duck. While it is technically classified as Critically Endangered, no living examples have been found since the 1950s.

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Dodo

Dodo

Perhaps the most famous extinct animal of all, the dodo is often held as the definitive example of careless ecosystem destruction. But why this bird of all animals?

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Passenger pigeon

Passenger pigeon

The passenger pigeon was a very fast-flying North American pigeon. It is a striking example of an extinction by humans as it was once the most populous bird in North America. The arrival of Europeans to the continent quickly reduced the number from 4 billion to 0.

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Elephant bird

Elephant bird

Elephant birds were a gigantic flightless bird from Madagascar. They are among the heaviest birds known to have existed, weighing up to 500 kg (1100 lbs).

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Great auk

Great auk

The Great auk was a Northern, flightless bird. It looked similar to a penguin but was actually unrelated. Like a penguin, it was ungainly on land but an extremely good swimmer. It could hold its breath for 15 minutes, slightly less than a penguin.

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Huia

Huia

The Huia was a type of wattlebird that lived exclusively on the North Island of New Zealand. It was known for the strikingly different beak shapes between the males and females, and for it's orange cheek colouring.

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More extinct animal lists