9 Brand New Birds That Are Already Threatened

A recent taxonomic review identified 361 new bird species—and a quarter of them are threatened.

If you've never heard of the Somali Ostrich, the Javan Blue-banded Kingfisher, or the Blue-bearded Helmetcrest, don't beat yourself up for being a bad birder. Until recently, they didn't exist. A massive reassessment of all non-passerine—or non-perching—birds yielded a walloping 361 new species that had previously been lumped in under other names. A planned reassessment of passerines—which represent more than half of all bird species—is likely to up the totals even more.

But the birds' warm welcome to the guidebooks is dampened by a sobering statistic. Bird Life International, the world's largest nature conservation partnership--comprised of 120 organizations including Audubon--assessed the new species on behalf of the 2014 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and found that more than 25 percent of them qualify as threatened. As the authority for the global conservation status of plants and animals, the Red List has long served as a road map to direct conservation efforts. That some of the newly identified species are already on the Red List underscores the importance of better information and bird species identification. In other words, if we don't know a species exists, we can't protect it.

Here's a look at some of the newly identified bird species, along with their Red List status.

1. Cebu Brown-dove (Phapitreron frontalis)

Red List Status: Critically Endangered

Where It Lives: Cebu island, in the Philippines.

Why It's Threatened: Less than 0.03 percent of Cebu's original forest cover remains, and there has not been a confirmed sighting of the Cebu Brown-dove since 1892.

Fun Fact: In 2004, there was a potential sighting of two Cebu Brown-doves in Alcoy Forest.

2. Belem Curassow (Crax pinima)

Red List Status: Critically Endangered

Where It Lives: Maranhao and Para in northeast Amazonia, Brazil.

Why It's Threatened: Deforestation from agriculture and logging. The last confirmed sighting of a Belem Curassow was in 1978.

Fun Fact: The Belem Curassow's home is in the Belem center of endemism, a hotspot for biodiversity.

3. Sira Curassow (Pauxi koepckeae)

Red List Status: Critically Endangered

Where It Lives: Central Peru.

Why It's Threatened: Sira Curassows are hunted for meat, and their habitat is threatened by agriculture.

Fun Fact: The Sira Curassow's song is a series of four low, booming notes. When the bird gives its alarm call—a sharp "ksop!"—it also fans its tail feathers.

4. Somali Ostrich (Struthio molybdophanes)

Red List Status: Vulnerable

Where It Lives: Northeast Africa, including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia.

Why It's Threatened: Compounding habitat loss, Somali Ostriches are hunted for meat and leather and their eggs are collected for use as ornaments.

Fun Fact: Unlike its relative the Common Ostrich, which has a pink neck and legs, the Somali Ostrich has blue-tinted skin.






5. Sangihe Dwarf-kingfisher (Ceyx sangirensis)

Red List Status: Critically Endangered

Where It Lives: Sangihe Island, Indonesia and possibly the Talaud Islands, Indonesia.

Why It's Threatened: Conversion of forest habitat to agriculture. There have been no confirmed sightings of the Sangihe Dwarf-kingfisher since 1997.

Fun Fact: Compared to other kingfishers, the Sangihe Dwarf-kingfisher is tiny—measuring just 13 cm long.

6. Desertas Petrel (Pterodroma deserta)

Red List Status: Vulnerable

Where It Lives: Breeds on Bugio Island, in the Portuguese Desertas Islands archipelago; during the rest of the year, it has a wide range throughout the North and South Atlantic.

Why It's Threatened: The Desertas Petrel has a stable, but very small, population, making it vulnerable to human impacts and random events. There have also been problems with soil erosion at its nesting sites.

Fun Fact: The Desertas Petrel nests in burrows and rock crevices 80-300 meters above the sea.

7. Javan Flameback (Chrysocolaptes strictus)

Red List Status: Vulnerable

Where It Lives: Java and Bali, Indonesia.

Why It's Threatened: Forest clearing from agriculture, logging, and development.

Fun Fact: Male Javan Flamebacks have a red crown and crest, while the female crown is bright yellow.


8. Blue-bearded Helmetcrest (Oxypogon cyanolaemus)

Red List Status: Critically Endangered

Where It Lives: Northeast Columbia, in the mountains of the Santa Marta region.

Why It's Threatened: Indigenous communities frequently burn the Blue-bearded Helmetcrest's habitat to create pasture, and its range has been extensively over-grazed by cattle herds. The species has not been recorded since 1946, but there have not been recent, thorough surveys to determine its population size.

Fun Fact: The Blue-bearded Helmetcrest lives only in a high-altitude ecosystem called paramo, which is also the primary habitat for 41 other species of birds.





9. Javan Blue-banded Kingfisher (Alcedo euryzona)

Red List Status: Critically Endangered

Where It Lives: Java, Indonesia.

Why It's Threatened: Deforestation for agriculture and development.

Fun Fact: The shy, typically sedentary Javan Blue-banded Kingfisher is found along rocky streams in the forest.


Credit for all images: Lynx Edicions

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