Birds are an essential piece of the ecosystem puzzle, making them necessary for maintaining the balance of our world. Currently, there exist about 12,000 different species of birds in the world. The sad bit is that this number used to be around 18,000 a few years ago. The leading cause of this sudden decrease has been the rapid extinction of several bird species due to excessive hunting and habitat loss.
Even now, several bird species are still battling extinction and will be lost to the world forever if conservation efforts are not made.
Thus, to create more awareness among the public about the threat to these birds and the importance of conserving them, we’ve come up with an article that lists the ten most endangered birds in the world currently. So, without any further ado, let’s get straight into describing these beautiful birds and discovering their importance to the greater ecosystem.
Top Most Endangered Birds in the World
1. California Condor
How the California Condor was saved from extinction by the conservation efforts of humans is truly a remarkable story and one that definitely deserves to top our list. This critically endangered vulture species started declining in the 1800s due to habitat loss, hunting and poisoning from lead ammunition.
By the 1980s, there were recorded to be only 27 individuals remaining in the wild. And in 1987, all the remaining condors were rounded up and brought into captivity.
The government then entered these birds into a breeding program to increase their numbers. During that time, the government of the USA also focused on preserving their habitat and regulating lead ammunition. These efforts were highly successful, increasing their numbers to 500 in 2021.
While conservation efforts shouldn’t stop here, we must recognize how impressive the feat of increasing a bird species number from 27 to 500 is and how much of an impact it could have on our ecosystem.
2. Bali Myna
One of the smallest birds in the world, the Bali Myna, also known as the Bali Starling, is a small magnificent bird native to the Indonesian Island of Bali. This tiny omnivore has been subject to habitat loss, excessive hunting, poaching and other invasive species. All these activities resulted in them being considered a critically endangered species.
In fact, as of today, estimates suggest that fewer than 100 individuals of the species may be left in the world. The primary cause of this sudden endangerment is human activities such as logging, agriculture, and urbanization. These human activities have destroyed much of Bali’s natural tropical forests and woodlands.
The poaching and illegal trade is also thriving in Bali, with the Bali Myna being the most popular bird in the pet trade due to its striking appearance and melodious song. The Bali Myna is considered a city symbol and holds immense cultural importance making it even more important to conserve the bird and protect its natural habitat.
3. Madagascar Pochard
Located in the wetlands of Madagascar, this special diving duck species is endemic to the Island of Madagascar, where they’ve long been hunted for food and their eggs.
In fact, the eggs are considered a delicacy on the island and are exported to other nations to form one of the sources of income for the island. Yet another reason why the preservation and conservating of these birds is so important. However, in recent years their natural habitat, the wetlands of Madagascar, are under threat due to human activities such as logging, agriculture and urbanization.
These same activities in other regions of the world and in Madagascar itself have also led to several invasive species entering the habitat of the Pochard. As a result, species like the Common Myna and the Black Rat have started preying on the bird’s eggs and competing with the bird for resources.
Conservation efforts like habitat restoration, captive breeding and reintroduction of this species are ongoing, but they are not having much effect as their numbers have kept dwindling.
4. Philippine Eagle
You’ve surely guessed there’s a specific reason why all these birds are endangered. Yes, that’s right, it’s because all of the birds on this list are endemic to one habitat rapidly being degraded to make room for urbanization or agriculture.
Well, the Philippine Eagle has the same story. This ferocious bald flier is one of the most dangerous predators in the world. However, they’re still under the threat of extinction due to rapid habitat loss and human hunting and poaching efforts. The Philippine eagle is hunted mainly for its meat, feathers and bones, which are essential in making several medicines and talismans.
The Philippine Eagle also has a low reproductive rate, with females producing only one egg every two to three years. This slow rate of reproduction has made it difficult for the bird’s population to recover from the decline it’s currently in.
Making a name for itself as the National Bird of New Zealand, the Kiwi is a small, unique flightless bird that only exists in New Zealand’s rainforests. However, all subspecies of Kiwis are currently under threat of extinction, making it a truly unique bird on our list. As a matter of fact, one species of Kiwis, the Apteryx Owenii, in the past, was so endangered that only five members of the species were left.
Over the years, the biggest threat to Kiwis has been introduced predators such as rats, stoats and possums, which prey on the animal’s eggs and compete with it for resources. Other factors include rapid deforestation, urbanization, fungal diseases affecting Kiwis specifically, and their low reproductive rate.
Thankfully, conservation efforts to protect the animal and its habitat have started back up, mainly focusing on predator control.
6. Siberian Crane
The first aquatic bird on our list, the Siberian Crane, spends most of its time living in lakes and small ponds in Northern Asia’s tundra, marshes and wetlands. The birds forage for food in these regions and build their nests close to water sources.
Unfortunately, due to global warming and climate change, these birds have had to change their breeding and migration patterns, leading to their eventual slow demise, making them a critically endangered species.
That’s not to say that humans don’t have a hand in their endangerment. Humans have been hunting and using the bird for their meat, feathers and bones for several years.
Add to that the threat to their habitat from human activities such as deforestation and aggressive land clearing for agriculture. It becomes pretty obvious why the aquatic bird has problems finding food and places to live.
7. Great Indian Bustard
Continuing our survey of the greater Asia region, we found another critically endangered bird that is indeed very close to the point of extinction, the Great Indian Bustard. Labeled as one of the heaviest and tallest species of birds, the Great Indian Bustard stands at a whopping height of 1.2 meters (4 feet) and can weigh up to 15 kg (33 lbs).
Despite their huge size and tall stature, these birds can have short bursts of flight. However, they prefer staying on the ground for most of their existence.
Native to the grasslands and open shrubland of the Indian Subcontinent, these birds have been historically hunted for their meat and feathers for several decades now, eventually leading to their dwindling in numbers over the years. Poaching of the bird’s eggs and chicks is also a problem.
Conservation efforts have been ongoing, including protecting and restoring their habitat and bans on hunting and poaching their eggs.
8. Spoon Billed Sandpiper
The Spoon Billed Sandpiper is one of the most unique birds ever. That’s mainly because of the spoon-shaped bill they use to sweep back and forth through shallow water probing the mud for their primary food source.
Apart from their spoonbill, these beautiful birds are incredibly tiny, weighing only around 30 grams (1.1 oz) and measuring 14 to 16 cm (5.5 to 6.3 in) in length.
Their small size has made them the target of numerous predators, hunters and even poachers. All the way out in the Arctic Tundra of Eastern Russia, their habitat has also been subject to devastating climate change leading to natural habitat loss.
All of these factors have led to the bird being critically endangered, with only 500 living species existing in the world, at the moment.
9. Yellow Crested Cockatoo
The Yellow Crested Cockatoo, which gets its name from the bright yellow feathers that form a distinctive crest on top of its head, is a herbivorous bird with one of the most unique feeding mechanisms across all bird species.
The cockatoo uses its powerful beak to crack open nuts and seeds to access the nutritious kernels inside. They are also known for their loud vocal capabilities, such as mimicking human speech and making loud, raucous calls.
Sadly, these birds are also critically endangered, with only an estimated 3000 individuals remaining in the wild. The main causes for their endangerment are the rapid degradation of their native habitat, the islands of Indonesia and East Timor, and the hunting efforts of humans and poachers.
They’re especially poached and hunted for their feathers, which are highly valued for use in traditional costumes and ceremonial garb.
10. Mariana Crow
Last but not least, we have the Mariana Crow, a critically endangered bird species, with only around 150 remaining in the wild. This bird is distinct in its appearance as it sports all-black feathers accompanied by a fan-shaped tail.
The Mariana Crow is also considered one of the most intelligent bird species in the world, mainly because of its use of tools to extract and devour its prey. An example of its tool use is when it uses sticks to remove insects from tree bark crevices. The bird’s incredible traits have made it a huge target for poachers selling it for massive amounts on the black market.
Hunters, too, love hunting the little bird down and adding them to their list of trophies. And because the Mariana Crow is endemic to the forests of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, from where it gets its name, we won’t be surprised if the bird eventually goes extinct from overhunting.
The two most important courses of action can address the issue of bird endangerment. First, protecting the birds and their population, followed by safeguarding their habitats. We could even reverse the current decline in bird populations and remove those listed as endangered with diligent execution of their protection and conservation.