The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
222 Bird Species Worldwide Now Critically Endangered
By John R. Platt
What do the southern red-breasted plover, ultramarine lorikeet and Rimatara reed warbler have in common?
Here's the unfortunate answer: They're just a few of the bird species newly listed as critically endangered in the latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The update, released last month by BirdLife International, cites climate change and overfishing as causes of the population declines of many species, particularly seabirds.
All told 222 bird species worldwide are now considered critically endangered, putting them one step above extinction. In fact, some of those species may already be gone: 21 species haven't been seen in years and are actually listed as "critically endangered, possibly extinct."
The yellow-breasted bunting (Emberiza aureola) could join that list of extinct species before too much longer. Previously considered to be of least concern, this once-common Asian species has experienced a catastrophic 80 percent population decline over the past 13 years and is now listed as critically endangered. The brightly colored bird is commonly trapped and sold as food on China's black market, despite being legally protected in that country.
In addition to the critically endangered list, another 461 bird species are now listed as endangered, with another 786 considered vulnerable. Fully 13 percent of the world's bird species are now considered threatened.
BirdLife didn't reassess every bird species this year, but it did publish new data on 238 of them. Among the most striking examples:
- Snowy owls (Bubo scandiacus), previously listed as of least concern, are now considered vulnerable, with threats ranging from illegal hunting to climate change.
- Nesting black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) are having trouble feeding their chicks as overfishing and climate change have robbed them of their food, a situation echoed with several other seabird species. The Cape gannet (Morus capensis), for example, has resorted to following fishing vessels in search of food and now relies on the discards thrown off the boats—essentially low-nutrition "junk food" that lowers the survival rates of newborn chicks.
- Similarly, the kea (Nestor notabilis), a parrot from New Zealand, has been listed as endangered because tourists keep feeding them unhealthy food like bread and potato chips.
Thankfully, there are several bright spots amongst all of this bad news. BirdLife found that several dozen bird species are now doing better than they were and have been downlisted to lower threat categories. This includes two species of kiwi, five owls, three parakeets and a number of warblers and babblers. Most notably the Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus), the world's largest freshwater bird, has been downlisted from vulnerable to near threatened—a testament to decades of protective efforts and proof that the fate of many of these endangered species can still be turned around.
Reposted with permission from our media associate The Revelator.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Emily Deanne
Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.
By Lorraine Chow
Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.
States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.
By Kristin Ohlson
From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.
Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.
By Hans Nicholas Jong
Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.
It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."