Sunday, April 14, 2013

The World's Rarest Birds...


 I just received a new and gorgeous book from Princeton University Press, "The World's Rarest Birds" by Erik Hirschfeld, Andy Swash and Robert Still. This book started with an international photo competition to assemble a directory of critically endangered and endangered birds of the world. After two competitions were held, this book was ready for the press. Since many of these threatened birds have never been photographed and may indeed be extinct, Polish artist Tomasz Cofta has illustrated them. Some of the photos are the only known photos of these birds and the shots are amazing to see.

These lists were compiled by BirdLife International  and the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2012. Of the over 10,000 known species, 130 have gone extinct since 1500 and 14 species are listed as possibly extinct or possibly extinct in the wild. Including in this book are 197 Critically Endangered and 389 Endangered species.

The details and facts listed are astounding, from the regional directories and maps to the appendix of extinct species and the globally threatened bird families. Every page is covered with wonderful photos of these rare birds thanks to all of the dedicated photographers and there love of nature.

 White-bellied Cinclodes from Peru by Dubi Shapiro, the 1st prize winner for Critically Endangered species.

 The information is very detailed and easy to read.

 Marquesan Imperial Pigeon from the island of Nuku Hiva in French Polynesia by Tim Laman, 
1st prize winner for Endangered species.

The threats birds face are mostly due to humans and their need for more of everything not matter the cost. Number 1 is agriculture, number 2 is logging and number 3 is invasive species such as dogs and cats. Hawaii once had over 100 endemic species, now over one half are extinct.

 Silverey Wood Pigeon near the west coast of Sumatra by James Eaton, Commended Critically Endangered Category.
Contained within the regional directories section are these lists of species broken down by country, with range maps and life details. 
The QR codes can be read with free programs such as "Neoreader" on your your smartphone. That will bring up even more information from BirdLife International.
White-tipped Monarch by Denzil Morgan, Commended Endangered Category.
This bird occupies an area less than 200 square km on the island of Tanahjampea in the Flores Sea.

Not everything in this book is doom and gloom, there are a few bright facts, 7 species were removed from the lists last year. But this book really shows that we all need to do more to save these feathers miracles and to share the wonder of birding with more people.