- The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) keeps a record of animals, fungi, and plants that are on the brink of extinction on their Red List of Threatened Species.
- There are more than 26,500 species that are threatened with extinction, including 14% of birds.
- Even though some species are at risk of becoming extinct, they can still make a comeback.
For each of the 96,500 total species that have been analysed by the IUCN, each is listed on a scale of danger that goes: Extinct, Extinct in the wild, Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, Near Threatened, and Least Concern.
There are more than 26,500 species that are threatened with extinction on the list, including 14% of birds, according to the IUCN.
Just because a species is at risk of becoming extinct, however, doesn’t mean it will. With the work of conservationists, animals can come back and thrive.
Here are 10 birds species that returned from the brink of extinction.
The northern bald ibis went from critically endangered to endangered this year.
The northern bald ibis, from Morocco, was at an all-time low of 59 breeding pairs in 1998 because of hunting, pesticides, and loss of habitat, according to BirdLife.org, but today numbers have risen to 147 breeding pairs and the birds spread to two new breeding sites in 2017.
Though there is still work to be done to get the bird off the endangered list, conservationists have hope it will be possible to recover the northern bald ibis fully.
The pink pigeon went from endangered to vulnerable this year.
By 1990, the pink pigeon, native to the island of Mauritius – the home of the extinct Dodo bird – had only 10 wild birds, according to BirdLife.org. After a decade of work to save the bird, conservationists were able to help the number of pink pigeons in the wild reach 300 and get the bird moved from critically endangered to endangered in 2000.
This year, with 400 pink pigeons in the wild, they were downlisted again to Vulnerable.
There were only 70 Lear’s macaw in the wild in the 1980s.
Native to Brazil, the beautiful blue Lear’s Macaw was a popular victim of the pet trade. From the end of the 1970s to the late 1980s, the Lear’s Macaw population dropped significantly, to the point of there being only 70 known birds in the wild, according to the American Bird Conservancy.
Today, though the bird is listed as endangered, the population of mature individuals is estimated to be between 250-999, according to the Red List.
In 1941, less than 20 whooping cranes existed in North America.
Conservation efforts, including captive breeding programs, have helped bring the number of whooping cranes back up. They are listed as endangered and according to the Red List, the population is increasing and the estimation of mature individual birds is between 50-249.
The trumpeter swan was once eradicated from Minnesota.
During the Nineteenth Century, the trumpeter swan was so over-hunted for food and the fur trade that it completely disappeared from Minnesota, according to a press release from the state. According to Audubon.com, there were fewer then 100 trumpeter swans south of Canada by the 1930s.
However, thanks to protection from hunting and other conservations efforts including reintroducing the species to its breeding range across the northwest of North America, the swans are listed as Least Concern on the Red List and have even returned to Minnesota with numbers as high as 17,000.
The Asian crested ibis had only six birds in captivity almost 40 years ago.
By 1963, the Asian crested ibis – native to eastern Russia, China, and Japan – had disappeared from Russia and the next year only one was seen in the wild in China, according to inkstone. In 1981, Japan took its last six wild crested ibises into captivity.
Because of the efforts of a Chinese researcher in the 1970s and ’80s, according to inkstone, the crested ibis was preserved. Today, there are about 330 in the wild, with a growing population, according to the Red List, which notes the birds as being endangered.
The turquoise parrot was believed to be extinct in 1915 but is listed as least concern today.
Native to Australia, the turquoise parrot lost its habitat as cattle farming was brought to Australia and woodlands were turned to fields. The birds were also popular in meat pies, according to National Geographic.
And though the bird was believed to be extinct in 1915, they were seen again in New South Wales in the 1930s. Work has been done to restore the parrot’s habitat and today, the bird is listed as Least Concern.
The bald eagle was almost extinct but is now considered safe and of least concern.
Though it is the national bird of the United States, the bald eagle was once hunted for sport and to protect fishing grounds, according to National Geographic. The majestic bird was also harmed by the use of pesticides and its population declined dangerously.
The restriction of pesticides in the early 1970s helped the majestic birds make a come back and today, they are considered of Least Concern on the Red List and by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Azores bullfinch’s population decreased because of habitat loss and changes.
As the forests of Portugal were cleared for forestry plantations and agriculture and invasive plants were introduced to the remote island that is home to the Azores Bullfinch, the bird’s population dangerously decreased, according to BirdLife.org.
The yellow-eared parrot was believed to be extinct in 1999.
Native to the mountainous forests of Colombia, the yellow-eared parrot almost died out as forests in Colombia were cleared, particularly the Quindio palm, which the parrot relies on heavily, according to the American Bird Conservancy.
By 1999, it was believed the bird was completely extinct until a group of researchers found a small population of 81 yellow-eared parrots.
With education and efforts to save the bird’s habitat, the yellow-eared parrot’s population has grown and is continuing to grow. Today, it is considered endangered on the Red List, though it was previously Critically endangered.
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