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The Ivory Bill·Birds

Extinct Birds

Passenger pigeon perched on a tree trunk

Passenger Pigeon

Passenger Pigeons were migratory birds that bred in deciduous forests and mixed woodlands in North America, primarily in the United States and Canada, during the spring and summer seasons. They were estimated to have a population ranging between 3 to 5 billion individuals. They were known for their immense flocks, which could darken the sky for days as they passed overhead.

Carolina Parakeet

Carolina Parakeet, Gustav Mutzel

Once abundant, this extinct species nested in large colonies in the cypress swamps in the South Atlantic and Gulf States. They migrated up the Mississippi, and Missouri Rivers to the Platte and regularly to Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Nebraska, and in the east to Pennsylvania. Hunted for their feathers and slaughtered as pests, the last reported sighting in the wild was a small flock in Florida in 1920.

Ivory-billed Woodpeckers foraging in a forest

Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, Campephilus principalis

Ivory-billed Woodpeckers were once found in the southeastern United States and Cuba. Although there have been reported sightings in recent years, they remain unconfirmed, and the species is considered extinct.

Heath Hen

Heath Hen

The Heath Hen was established as distinct from its relative, the Prairie Chicken in 1885. Correllus State Forest on Martha’s Vineyard was created in 1908 as a Heath Hen Reserve to prevent the bird’s extinction. The last Heath Hen was sighted in 1932 shortly after a grassland fire.

Eskimo curlew on dunes above water

Eskimo Curlew, Numenius borealis

Eskimo Curlews may be extinct, with no confirmed sightings in recent years. Once larger populations inhabited the Arctic regions of Canada and Alaska and migrated south to wintering grounds in South America. Eskimo Curlews foraged in grasslands, wetlands, and agricultural fields for insects, such as caterpillars and beetles, during their nesting season. During their migration, they fed on invertebrates, such as crustaceans, mollusks, and worms.

Bachman's Warbler

Bachman’s Warbler, Louis Agassiz Fuertes

A recently extinct species, Bachman’s Warblers nested in the underbrush of forested swamps in the region bounded by Louisiana up to Kentucky and Maryland, and over to the Carolinas and Georgia, migrating to Cuba in winters. None have been seen since the early 1960s in North America and they were listed as endangered in 1967.

The Great Auk

Great Auk

The Great Auk or Garefowl was also known as a “Penguin”. The Great Auk inhabited the coasts and islands of the North Atlantic from Virginia and Ireland to Greenland and Iceland almost to the Arctic Circle. The flightless bird was easily captured. They and their eggs fed many sailors. Shorebirds that breed in a limited number of colonies at only certain locations are highly susceptible to concentrated stresses and the Great Auk was extinct by mid Nineteenth Century.

Read more about Gauadalupe Caracaras

Guadalupe Caracara

As with many recently extinct animals, this species was brought to extinction when collectors, including museums, sought rare specimens after hunters reduced their numbers on the island of Guadalupe, their only home.

The Extinct Labrador Duck

Labrador Duck

Egg gatherers raiding the Labrador Duck’s nest colonies on the coasts of Quebec and Labrador probably diminished their numbers to a point where the species could not overcome additional stresses and they became extinct by the late 1870s.

Spectacled Cormorant

Spectacled Cormorant, Pallas’ Cormorant

Discovered in the Aleutian Islands by George Steller while exploring with Vitus Bering in 1741. The Spectacled Cormorant was extinct within about a century.

Dodo, Raphus cucullatus


In 1505, Portuguese explorers discovered the island of Mauritius and the 50 lb flightless Dodos which supplemented their food stores. Imported pigs, monkeys and rats fed on the Dodo Bird’s eggs in their ground nests. The last Dodo was killed in 1681.

Rodrigues Solitaire


The Rodrigues Solitaire (Pezophaps solitaria) was a relative of the also extinct Dodo and flightless member of the pigeon order that lived on the island of Mauritius. The Solitaire became extinct in the eighteenth century and its remains were discovered later.

Kona Grosbeak, Chloridops kona

Kona Grosbeak Chloridops kona

Extinct before the 20th century. According to ornithologist Scott Barchard Wilson, The Kona grosbeak “… is a dull, sluggish, solitary bird and very silent-its whole existence may be summed up in the words “to eat.” (wiwipedia)

Black Mamo, Drepanis funerea

Black Mamo, Drepanis funerea

Many Hawaiian birds have become extinct in little more than 200 years. The Black Mamo was a curious bird that would approach people making it all the more vulnerable. 

Hawaii Akialoa, Hemignathus obscurus obscurus

Hawaii Akialoa, Hemignathus obscurus obscurus

The Lesser Akialoa is named for its long, curved bill. It had a loud call and foraged for insects in bark and moss.

Kipi, Hemignathus lichtensteini

Kipi, Hemignathus lichtensteini

Hawaiian Rail, Porzana sandwichensis

Hawaiian Rail, Porzana sandwichensis

A flightless bird that lived in shrublands and open fields. Extinction was likely caused by introduced rats and cats.

Oahu O'o, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, Moho apicalis

Oahu O’o, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, Moho apicalis

Oahu O’o’s plumage was worn by Hawaiian nobility, but extinction was likely caused by introduced avian disease through mosquitoes and deforestation.

Molokai O'o, Biship's O'o, Moho bishopi

Molokai O’o, Biship’s O’o, Moho bishopi

Hawaii O'o, Moho nobilis

Hawaii O’o, Moho nobilis

Native Hawaiians hunted the Hawaii O’o and settlers also learned to hunt them for their striking glossy black and yellow plumage.

Great Toothed Diver, Hesperornis

The Great Toothed Diver, Hesperornis

Hesperornis regalis, the Great Toothed Diver, was a huge wingless, carnivorous diving bird with teeth.

Phororhacos longissimus


Extinct 9 ft Tall, 280 lb flightless, carnivorous “Terror Birds” lived terrorized rodents and small mammals in Patagonia during the Pleistocene era.

Giant Moas

Giant Moas