7 Extinct Birds That Should Never Be Forgotten
Learn about extinct bird species of North America, including passenger pigeons, seaside sparrows, the ivory-billed woodpecker and great auks.
1. Passenger pigeons have been extinct for more than 100 years. At one time, huge flocks of these birds darkened the sky as they moved around eastern North America.
Dusky Seaside Sparrow
2. Only six dusky seaside sparrows, all male, were left in 1979. Pollution, pesticides and loss of marsh habitat caused the extinction of the bird species. All about sparrows: What birders should know.
3. Great auks were hunted for their meat, feathers, and eggs, leading to their extinction in the 1800s. Today, stuffed specimens of this extinct bird are rare; only about 80 exist in museum collections around the world.
4. Heath hens vanished in 1932. A subspecies of today’s greater prairie-chicken, they were last seen at a reserve on Martha’s Vineyard.
5. Only one parrot species was native to the U.S.: the Carolina parakeet. Once abundant in North America, farmers killed off large numbers of these birds, contributing to their official extinction in 1939.
Great Toothed Diver
6. The great toothed diver (Hesperornis regalis) lived more than 83 million years ago. Flightless, it used its hind legs and lobed toes to swim, similar to grebes. It was about 5 feet long! Check out 20 types of ducks to look for in spring.
7. The ivory-billed woodpecker was once the third-largest woodpecker in the world. It was believed to have gone extinct at least 50 years ago, but brief sightings were reported from Arkansas’ Big Woods in 2004 and 2005. Despite extensive efforts to locate the bird, the species was recently officially declared extinct by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Discover 11 types of woodpeckers birders should know.