Just like other animals, birds are faced with numerous threats converging from different directions. Some are lucky to wade off any danger to their survival and continue to thrive. For others, the battle has been long-drawn and the risk of extinction is very much real. In no particular order, here are some distinct birds whose struggle from the edge of elimination is still an ongoing process and have been recognized by a 2014 study on the 100 most endangered birds in the world.
1. Philippine eagle
Originally known as the monkey-eating eagle, Philippine’s national bird is thought to be one of the largest existing eagles globally and is classified as critically endangered with about 180-500 individuals remaining in Philippines. The main culprit for this is receding habitat as a result of deforestation.
Critically endangered with a total adult population of 154 in June 2016, the kakapo is a distinct, flightless New-Zealand parrot. Due to its low metabolic rate, it is the heaviest of all parrots. Risk factors include predation, hunting and loss of habitat.
3. Giant Ibis
Endemic to Northern Cambodia and the largest in the ibis family, this is a lowland dwelling bird that has been rapidly declining due to several factors including loss of habitat, predation by humans and droughts. Currently, the population is approximated to be around 100 pairs.
4. California Condor
Considered the largest land bird in North America with a wingspan of between 8.2-9.8 ft, this raptor suffered rapid decline due to loss of habitat, lead poisoning and hunting and by 1987 was extinct in the wild. The birds have been reintroduced and the population as of December 2015 stands at 435 individuals, consisting of 167 captive California condors.
Dubbed the “ghost of the forest” because of its ashy hue, the kagu is the national emblem of its native Grand Terre, New Caledonia. Its decline in the 1990s can be attributed to predators such as dogs and cats as well as a loss of habitat.
6. Christmas Island Frigatebird
Native to Chritmas Island Australia and equipped with a massive wingspan (81-91 inches), the Christmas Island Frigatebird has the distinction of being the rarest seabird in its host country. As can be expected from a sea dependent, water pollution has played a role in its decline as has loss of habitat and interference of yellow crazy ants at its breeding grounds.
7. Northern bald ibis
Yet another ibis on the list, the non-wading Northern bald ibis is formally inhabited Europe before its extinction and can currently be found in Morocco with a very smaller pocket of less than 10 individuals occupying Syria. Threats to this distinct bird include climatic change, human encroachment and pesticide poisoning.
8. Spoon-billed sandpiper
With a wide range extending from Russia to 14 other countries, the main cause of the decrease of these small spatula-billed wading birds is human interference. Constant hunting and loss of habitat to developments has seen the population diminish and the current status given as critically endangered. There are thought to be less than 2500 adults remaining.
9. Bengal florican
Critically endangered, the population of the elusive Bengal florican has been estimated to be less than 1,000 adults within its native Cambodia and Vietnam and is now considered earth’s rarest bustard. However measures have been put in place to halt its rapid decline. Cambodian authorities for example have set up some conservation areas to protect the bird’s grassland habitat.
10. Forest owlet
Endemic to India, the forest owlet was once considered extinct until its sighting in 1997. A 2015 estimate by Birdlife international put the population at fewer than 250 individuals.