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article imageRare bird alert

By Tim Sandle     Apr 12, 2014 in Environment
Researchers have collated a list of the 100 most rare and unique bird species, many of which are facing extinction. The researchers warn that half of the 100 highest ranked bird species are receiving little or no conservation attention.
At the top of a new list of the 100 most endangered birds are the giant ibis, the New Caledonian owlet-nightjar, and the California condor. Each bird on the list has been ranked and assessed based on their appearances, behavior, and evolutionary history.
The giant ibis, the national bird of Cambodia, ranked number one in the survey. The massive bird reaches heights of more than 1 meter, and can weigh up to 4.2 kilograms. Fewer than 230 mating pairs are alive today.
The giant ibis
The giant ibis
Henrik Grönvold
The New Caledonian owlet-nightjar, the number-two most unique and distinctive bird, is even more rare, with just a handful of sightings ever recorded, and none since 1998. Fewer than 50 are believed to be alive today.
Barred Owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles bennettii)
Barred Owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles bennettii)
The California condor ranked third; it was once at the brink of extinction, with only 21 wild birds alive in 1981.
California Condor at San Diego Zoo  USA
California Condor at San Diego Zoo, USA
The list was compiled by biologists based at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Yale University. The exercise was part of the EDGE of Existence program, a global conservation initiative that aims to document “threatened species that represent a significant amount of unique evolutionary history.”
Discussing the project, report coauthor Walter Jetz from Yale University and Imperial College London told BBC News: "These highly distinct and endangered birds often occur far away from places that are species-rich or are already on conservation’s radar."
The list has been published in the journal Current Biology ("Global Distribution and Conservation of Evolutionary Distinctness in Birds").
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