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Modern Extinctions

Mainland North America Extinctions


After the great wave of extinctions associated with the first spread of humans in the New World, a smaller wave began as Europeans settled across North America in the 19th century. Continental North America has definitely lost at least three bird species since 1850 (Labrador Duck, Passenger Pigeon, and Carolina Parakeet), and the continued existence of another three is unlikely (Eskimo Curlew, Ivory-billed Woodpecker, and Bachman's Warbler).

These six remarkable species will forever stand as symbols of both rampant exploitation of wildlife and failure to protect native habitats during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Learn more about four of these in the links below.

Labrador Duck
The mystery extinction

Passenger Pigeon
Market hunting at its worst

Carolina Parakeet
Removal of a menace

Eskimo Curlew
Three strikes in the wink of an eye



Endangered Species

The threat of loosing other North American bird species is growing. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service maintains a list of officially recognized endangered and threatened species.

Partners in Flight, working with the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, maintains a species assessment database on all regularly occurring North American bird species.

Partners in Flight has also developed the North American Landbird Conservation Plan, which provides a continental synthesis of priorities and objectives that will guide landbird conservation actions at national and international scales. The plan covers the 448 species of native landbirds that regularly breed in the U.S. and Canada.

One of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's newest conservation programs is the Urban Conservation Treaty for Migratory Birds. This is an outreach program designed to work with cities to preserve habitat and educate citizens about birds in an urban environment.