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Endangered Birds

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Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Chester A. Reed, The Bird Book, 1914

Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Chester A. Reed

Various reported sightings in East Texas in 1972, Cuba in 1986, and Louisiana in 2000 and 2004 left hope that Ivory-bills still lived. Unfortunately, the reports and follow up sightings are now believed to be mistaken.  Deforestation caused the giant woodpecker's decline as each pair required at least ten square miles of low-land hardwood forests.





Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus,  Robert Ridgway, Hawks and Owls, US Department of Agriculture, 1893

Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus,  Robert Ridgway

Congress prohibited killing the American Eagle in 1940.   In 1963, 417 nesting Bald Eagle pairs were counted in the lower 48 States.  They were listed as endangered south of the 40th parallel in 1967 and in 43 States in 1973.  In 1999, it was estimated almost 6,000 pairs were nesting in the lower 48 States and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to delist the Bald Eagle.





California Condor Gymnogyps californianus, W.L.Finley & H.T.Bohlman, Birds of America,  T Gilbert Pearson, 1917

California Condor Gymnogyps californianus
W.L.Finley & H.T.Bohlman

California Condors were listed as endangered in 1967.  By 1982, there were less than two dozen in the wild.  Mating Condor pairs produce only one egg every two years.  Rescued from the brink of extinction by an intense captive breeding program, as of October 1, 2003 there was a total wild population of 83 and 137 in captivity.  With a wingspan of over 9 feet, California Condors can soar more than 100 miles per day on updrafts searching for food.  They have a life span of up to 60 years.




Attwater's Greater Prairie-Chicken, Tympanuchus cupido attwateri,  E..R..Kalmbach,  Knowing Birds Through Stories, Floyd Bralliar, 1922

Attwater's Greater Prairie Chicken,
Tympanuchus cupido attwateri  E..R..Kalmbach

The Greater Prairie Chicken was designated endangered in Texas in 1967.  Nests in slight, grass lined hollows in the soil sheltered by grass tufts in open coastal grasslands, which have been reduced through cultivation and grazing.  Populations have declined to less than 100, which sounds strikingly like the story of their extinct cousin, the Heath Hen.  Eats grass and flower seeds.  Their dancing mating spectacles are popular among birder and even inspired traditional Native American ritual dances.  Preyed upon by hawks and owls, even cats and dogs.




Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Rex Brasher, Birds of North Carolina, T Gilbert Pearson, 1919

Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Rex Brasher

Brown Pelicans were designated endangered in 1970 and delisted in 1985 in Florida, Alabama and the Atlantic coast. Inhabits mostly the coasts, although inland sometimes, from middle and southern North America to South America.  Nests in colonies on shores or wetlands, on the ground or mangrove bushes, usually on islands. Gluttonous, they plunge for fish rather than scooping like the White Pelican.



Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Picoides borealis, R Bruce Horsfall, Birds of North Carolina, T. Gilbert Pearson, 1919

Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Picoides borealis, R Bruce Horsfall

The Red-cockaded woodpecker was designated endangered in 1970. Excavates its own cavities which it returns to for several years in live pine trees in open pine woods, rarely in dense forests, in southeastern US from Oklahoma and Texas to Florida and north to Virginia. Pecks hundreds of small holes in the bark from which pine tar seeps surrounding its cavity entrance hole deterring insects and some predators. Small groups search tree branches and cones for insects and a few seeds, usually near tree tops. Often mistaken for the Downy Woodpecker, however, is less likely to roost near humans.




Kirtland's Warbler  Dendroica kirtlandii,  R Bruce Horsfall

Kirtland's Warbler  Dendroica kirtlandii, R Bruce Horsfall


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