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.
By Kate Murphy
No matter the time of year, there's always a point in each season when my skin decides to cause me issues. While these skin issues can vary, I find the most common issues to be dryness, acne and redness.
David Woodfall / The Image Bank / Getty Images
By Sam Nickerson
Now, correspondence obtained by the LA Times revealed just how deeply involved industry lobbyists and a controversial, industry-funded toxicologist were in drafting the federal agency's proposal to scrap its current, protective approach to regulating toxin exposure.
February 22 is the birthday of conservationist and beloved TV personality "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, who would have been 57 years old today.
Irwin's life was tragically cut short when the barb from a stingray went through his chest while he was filming in 2006, but his legacy of loving and protecting wildlife lives on, most recently in a Google Doodle today honoring his birthday.
By Dan Nosowitz
That video showed the extrusion of a bubblegum-pink substance oozing into a coiled pile, something between Play-Doh, sausage, and soft-serve strawberry ice cream. Branded "pink slime"—the name came from an email sent by a USDA microbiologist in 2002—this stuff was actually beef, destined for supermarkets and fast-food burgers.
'Kicking Ass for Her Generation': Applause for 16-Year-Old Greta Thunberg as EU Chief Pledges $1 Trillion to Curb Climate Threat
By Julia Conley
Sixteen-year-old climate action leader Greta Thunberg stood alongside European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker Thursday in Brussels as he indicated—after weeks of climate strikes around the world inspired by the Swedish teenager—that the European Union has heard the demands of young people and pledged more than $1 trillion over the next seven years to address the crisis of a rapidly heating planet.
In the financial period beginning in 2021, Juncker said, the EU will devote a quarter of its budget to solving the crisis.