Avian Expert Articles

Spix’s Macaw Among The Many Bird Species Now Extinct In The Wild

Spixs Macaw sitting on a treeAs the world changes, it’s not a pleasant thought that some things will go out of existence. For decades, science and biologists have combined to try to encourage the proliferation of our declining bird populations, many times with little luck. Unfortunately, the prolonged efforts simply aren’t enough to prevent the disappearance of many of our bird species. In 2018, we’ve had the sad task of adding eight additional birds to an “extinct in the wild” list. One of them is the highly recognizable Spix’s macaw (or blue macaw).


Spix Macaws from the movie RioThe Brazilian Spix’s Macaw was popularized by the animated film, Rio, and its follow-up, Rio 2. The first movie followed the exploits of blue macaws Blu as he and Jewel escape the clutches of a wildlife trafficker. Rio 2, follows Blu and Jewel with their three chicks in an effort to change their familiarization of city life. In reality, the last sighting of an actual Spix’s macaw in the wild was at in 2000.

Diminishing Habitats

This Birdlife International study of potentially extinct (or nearing extinction) birds was conducted in light of unendurable changing habitats due to rapid deforestation, and often avoidable human intervention. Birdlife International tracked an accumulated list of 51 critically endangered bird species from over the last decade. For the study, it utilized newer methods of assessment to more accurately determine probabilities. It is stated that good record-keeping, the timing of those records, use of surveys, and the extent and intensity of ongoing threats were necessary for proper assessment of actual extinction declarations.

Four of the eight birds now considered extinct in the wild are the Brazilian Spix’s Macaw, the Brazilian Cryptic Treehunter (last seen in 2007), the Brazilian Alagoas Foliage-Gleaner (last seen in 2011), and the Hawaiian Black-faced Honeycreeper , also known as the Poo-uli (last seen in 2004). The other four birds in this list have been reclassified as critically endangered, or possibly extinct. They are the Glaucous Macaw, the Pernambuco Pygmy Owl, the New Caledonian Lorikeet, and the Javan Lapwing. None of last four birds have been seen since 2001.

More Species At Risk

According to an assembled “Red List” that monitors the endangerment of more than 26,000 species of the world’s creatures, it is feared that a new wave of human-driven rapid extinction is upon us. The persistent illegal logging activities and other destructive actions by man to important living spaces of endangered birds have not only greatly helped cause the extinction of the remaining birds of concern in the wild, it has elevated concern levels of other birds still in the area as well as many other creatures.

The concerns of continued and potential extinctions are being addressed at an Egypt gathering scheduled in November of 2018, with another planned in Beijing in 2020. It is important to recognize that although these birds have been considered extinct, caution is used in the possible event that any future observation efforts, funding, and necessary continued studies might be stopped for these birds. That could be catastrophic if any of these birds show up in a potential sighting that could bring immediate new hope for their survival.


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One thought on “Spix’s Macaw Among The Many Bird Species Now Extinct In The Wild

  1. Tears came to my eyes while reading this article. What is to come in the future as more and more fall into extinction?
    Mankind is ruining the world and there’s nothing we can do to stop it!
    So many of us work hard to preserve what we can only to have the greed of others tear it all down again….

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