Prairievogels

New study reveals alarming decline of Patagonian geese

In the early 20th century, tens of thousands of Ruddy-headed Geese crowded the deserts of Patagonia. Today, they have become a rare sight. However, they still inhabit the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) in large numbers and some argue that these island-dwellers could be the key to one day repopulating the continental. However, in a blow for the future of this species, a new study reveals reintroduction might not be possible.

An urgent effort to rescue a tiny sparrow from extinction

Among the most endangered birds in North America is the Florida grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus). The prairie is home to the last wild population of the Florida grasshopper sparrow. Fewer than 150 are believed to remain of the tiny sparrow, which is found only on the prairie of central Florida. The Florida grasshopper sparrow would be the first confirmed bird extinction in the continental United States since the Dusky seaside sparrow, also found in Florida, died out in 1987.

In many former ranges, the prairie chicken is gone, probably never to return

The prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupido) once numbered about 3 million across an area that stretches through eastern New Mexico, eastern Colorado, western Kansas, western Nebraska, northwest Oklahoma, and in parts of the Texas Panhandle and South Plains. Estimates show their population now at 30,000 to 40,000. In some places that used to be native range, estimates show a 97 percent decline. In many other former ranges, these birds are gone, probably never to return. Today, these birds currently occur in parts of only 10 states.

Crested Crane - Uganda's Symbolic Bird Now Faces Threat of Extinction

With a crown of stiff gold-coloured feathers on its head, a bright red gular sac and body made of gray, brown, gold and white patches, the grey crowned crane stands out for its striking features. Commonly called the crested crane (Balearica regulorum), it is a bird of national significance to Uganda, occupying a prime position on the country's national flag and coat of arms. Yet despite its serenity, beauty and popularity, the crested crane is facing the threat of extinction.

Scientists document a billion fewer landbirds in North America since 1970

A new analysis of the population status and trends of all landbirds in the continental U.S. and Canada documents widespread declines among 448 bird species — a troubling indicator of the health of these species and their ecosystems. According to the new Partners in Flight Landbird Conservation Plan, released August 15, nearly 20 percent of U.S. and Canadian landbird species are on a path toward endangerment and extinction in the absence of conservation action. Partners in Flight is a network of more than 150 partnering organizations throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Galápagos faces first-ever extinction of an insectivorous bird

Scientists have discovered a new species of colorful songbird in the Galápagos Islands, with one catch: it's extinct. Researchers from the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco State University (SFSU), the University of New Mexico (UNM), and the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory (SFBBO) used molecular data from samples of museum specimens to determine that two subspecies of Vermilion Flycatchers, both found only in the Galápagos, should be elevated from subspecies to full species status.

Minnesota prairies see decline in butterflies

Erik Runquist saw it for a moment, then it was gone. Walking a tract of Nature Conservancy-owned prairie outside Moorhead, Runquist caught a glimpse of a Dakota skipper (Hesperia dacotae), a thumbnail-sized, orange and brown butterfly. It perched atop a coneflower before disappearing into the prairie grass. "Skippers are evasive. You may get only a few seconds to be able to find it before it zips off the coneflower, especially if it's a windy day," said Runquist, the Minnesota Zoo's butterfly conservation biologist.

Meadowlark numbers decline across North Dakota

A few years ago on a Sunday drive near the edge of West Fargo, creeping along with no particular route in mind, one of my kids let out the proverbial, "look." Instinctively, I took my foot of the gas—not that slowing from 10 mph down to 5 mph would make much of a difference—but it was slow enough to allow enough of a look to positively identify the bird as Western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta). Years ago, a meadowlark, even near the edge of town, might not have prompted a stop.

Why the world’s vultures are vanishing

AFRICA is losing its vultures. Of its 11 species of the bird, 6 are at risk of extinction and 4 are critically endangered, according to a recent report by BirdLife International, a nature conservation partnership. Since the 1990s, the population of South Asia’s vulture species has collapsed by more than 99%. In 2003 scientists identified diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat livestock, as the main cause for this decline. Vultures living on the carcasses of animals recently treated with the drug died from severe kidney failure within weeks of ingesting it. This created two main problems. The first is connected to vultures' place in the ecosystem. As their numbers declined, a host of other disease-ridden animals—in particular rabied dogs—came to feed off the carcasses instead. And there was another problem. India's community of Parsees, who not cremate nor bury their dead, but rather lay them out on towers known as dokhmas for vultures to eat, found that this traditional was imperilled. In 2006 the governments of India, Pakistan and Nepal introduced a ban on the manufacture of the drug that has since seen vulture numbers in the region stabilise, though they remain vulnerable.