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Birds Guide

Extinct birds

(Probably) Extinct birds
| Late Quaternary prehistoric birds

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Since 1500, over 100 species of birds have become extinct, and this rate of extinction seems to be increasing. The situation is exemplified by Hawai‘i, where 30% of all known recently extinct species originally lived. Other areas, such as Guam, have also been hard hit; Guam has lost over 60% of its native species in the last 30 years, many of them to the introduced Brown Tree Snake.

There are today about 10,000 species of birds, with roughly 1200 considered to be under threat of extinction. Except for a dozen or so species the threat is man-made.

Island species in general, and flightless island species in particular are most at risk. The disproportionate number of rails in the list reflects the tendency of that family to lose the ability to fly when geographically isolated. Even more rails became extinct before they could be described by scientists; these taxa are listed in Later Quaternary Prehistoric Birds.

The extinction dates given below are usually approximations of the actual date of extinction. In some cases, more exact dates are given as it is sometimes possible to pinpoint the date of extinction to a specific year or even day (the San Benedicto Rock Wren is possibly the most extreme example - its extinction could be timed with an accuracy of maybe half an hour). Extinction dates in the literature are usually the dates of the last verified record (credible observation or specimen taken); in many Pacific birds which became extinct shortly after European contact, however, this leaves an uncertainty period of over a century because the islands on which they used to occur were only rarely visited by scientists.



Extinct bird species


The Ostrich and related ratites.

The taxonomy of the elephant birds is not fully resolved; it is almost certain that at least one taxon survived until Recent times, but it is not clear which species the reports refer to, if there were indeed more than one.
  • Lesser Megalapteryx, Megalapteryx didinus (South Island, New Zealand, late 15th century?)
Generally believed to have been extinct by 1500, this is the only moa species that according to current knowledge might have survived until later times, possibly as late as the 1830s.
  • King Island Emu, Dromaius ater (King Island, Australia, 1822)
Extinct in the wild c.1805, the last captive specimen died in 1822 in the Jardin des Plantes.
  • Kangaroo Island Emu, Dromaius baudinianus (Kangaroo Island, Australia, 1827)
  • West Coast Spotted Kiwi, Apteryx occidentalis (South Island, New Zealand, c.1900)
A doubtful form known from a single bird; may be a Little Spotted Kiwi subspecies or a hybrid between that species and the rowi.



  • Magdalena Tinamou, Crypturellus saltuarius (Colombia, late 20th century?)
Sometimes considered a Red-legged Tinamou subspecies, this bird is only known from the 1943 type specimen. Recent research suggest it is still extant.


Ducks, geese and swans.

  • Korean Crested Shelduck, Tadorna cristata (Northeast Asia, late 20th century?)
A relict species from Northeast Asia. Officially critically endangered due to recent unconfirmed reports.
  • Réunion Shelduck, Alopochen kervazoi (Réunion, Mascarenes, c.1690s)
    Mauritian Shelduck, Alopochen mauritianus (Mauritius, Mascarenes, late 1690s)
    Amsterdam Island Duck, Anas marecula (Amsterdam Island, South Indian Ocean, 1800)
    Mauritian Duck, Anas theodori (Mauritius and Réunion, Mascarenes, late 1690s)
    Mariana Mallard, Anas oustaleti (Marianas, West Pacific, 1981)
    Finsch's Duck, Chenonetta finschi from New Zealand possibly survived to 1870
    Pink-headed Duck, Netta caryophyllacea (East India, Bangladesh, North Myanmar, 1945?)
Officially critically endangered; recent surveys have failed to rediscover it.
  • Madagascar Pochard, Aythya innotata (Madagascar, 1992?)
Officially critically endangered, possibly extinct.
  • Réunion Pochard, Aythya cf. innotata (Réunion, Mascarenes, c.1690s)
A bone of a pochard found on Réunion seems to resolve the reports of canards other than the Mauritian Duck having occurred on the island. The taxonomic status of this form cannot be resolved until more material is found, however.
  • Labrador Duck, Camptorhynchus labradorius (Northeast North America, c.1880)
    Auckland Islands Merganser, Mergus australis (Auckland Islands, Southwest Pacific, c.1902)


Quails and relatives.

  • The Giant Scrubfowl, Megapodius molistructor, may have survived on New Caledonia to the late 18th century as evidenced by decriptions of the bird named "Tetrao australis" and later "Megapodius andersoni".
  • The Viti Levu Scrubfowl, Megapodius amissus of Viti Levu and possibly Kadavu, Fiji, may have survived to the early 19th or even the 20th century as suggested by circumstantial evidence.
  • Raoul Island Scrubfowl, Megapodius sp. (Raoul, Kermadec Islands, 1876)
A megapode is said to have inhabited Raoul Island until the population was wiped out in a volcanic eruption. It is not clear whether the birds represent a distinct taxon or derive from a prehistoric introduction by Polynesian seafarers.
  • New Zealand Quail, Coturnix novaezelandiae (New Zealand, 1875)
    Himalayan Quail, Ophrysia superciliosa (North India, late 19th century?)
Officially critically endangered. Not recorded with certainty since 1876, but thorough surveys are still required, and there is a recent set of possible (though unlikely) sightings around Naini Tal in 2003. A little-known native name from Western Nepal probably refers to this bird, but for various reasons, no survey for Ophrysia has ever been conducted in that country, nor is it generally assumed to occur there (due to the native name being overlooked).


Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis), Natural History Museum, London, England
Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis), Natural History Museum, London, England

Shorebirds, gulls and auks.

  • Javanese Lapwing, Vanellus macropterus (Java, Indonesia, mid-20th century)
Officially classified as critically endangered, but as this conspicuous bird has not been recorded since 1940, it is almost certainly extinct.
  • Tahitian Sandpiper, Prosobonia leucoptera (Tahiti, Society Islands, 19th century)
    White-winged Sandpiper, Prosobonia ellisi (Moorea, Society Islands, 19th century)
Doubtfully distinct from P. leucoptera.
  • Eskimo Curlew, Numenius borealis (Northern North America, late 20th century?)
May still exist; officially classified as critically endangered, possibly extinct.
  • Slender-billed Curlew, Numenius tenuirostris (Western Siberia, early 2000s?)
May still exist; officially classified as critically endangered. Last seen in 1999 following several decades of increasing rarity.
  • Great Auk, Pinguinus impennis (North Atlantic, c.1844)
    Canarian Black Oystercatcher, Haematopus meadewaldoi (Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, Canary Islands, early 20th century)


Rails and allies.

  • Antillean Cave-Rail, Nesotrochis debooyi from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands possibly survived into the Modern Era.
    Hawkins' Rail, Diaphorapteryx hawkinsi (Chatham Islands, SW Pacific, 19th century)
    Red Rail, Aphanapteryx bonasia (Mauritius, Mascarenes, c.1700)
    Rodrigues Rail, Aphanapteryx leguati (Rodrigues, Mascarenes, mid-18th century)
    Bar-winged Rail, Nesoclopeus poecilopterus (Fiji, Polynesia, c.1980)
    New Caledonian Rail, Gallirallus lafresnayanus (New Caledonia, Melanesia, c.1990?)
Officially classified as critically endangered, the last records were in 1984 and it seems that all available habitat is overrun by feral pigs and dogs which prey on this bird.
  • Wake Island Rail, Gallirallus wakensis (Wake Island, Micronesia, 1945)
    Tahitian Red-billed Rail, Gallirallus pacificus (Tahiti, Society Islands, late 18th - 19th century)
    Dieffenbach's Rail, Gallirallus dieffenbachii (Chatham Islands, SW Pacific, mid-19th century)
    Sharpe's Rail, Gallirallus sharpei (Indonesia?, 20th century?)
A bird known from a single skin of unknown origin. A reseach project has been proposed to shed light on its relationships and possible place of origin.
  • Vava'u Rail, Gallirallus cf. vekamatolu (Vava'u, Tonga, early 19th century?)
This bird is known only from a drawing by the 1793 Malaspina expedition, apparently depicting a species of Gallirallus. The 'Eua Rail, Gallirallus vekamatolu, is known from prehistoric bones found on 'Eua, but this species cannot have been the bird depicted, as it was flightless. However, it probably was a close relative.
  • The Norfolk Island Rail, Gallirallus sp. may be the bird shown on a bad watercolor illustration made around 1800
    Chatham Rail, Cabalus modestus (Chatham Islands, SW Pacific, c.1900)
    Réunion Rail, Dryolimnas augusti (Réunion, Mascarenes, late 17th century)
    Red-throated Wood-rail, Aramides gutturalis (Peru, 20th century?)
Usually considered a badly prepared specimen of the Grey-necked Wood Rail, the single known individual of this bird may prove a distinct species though.
  • Ascension Island Rail, Mundia elpenor (Ascension, Island, Atlantic, late 17th century) - formerly Atlantisia
    Saint Helena Crake, Porzana astrictocarpus (Saint Helena, Atlantic, early 16th century)
    Laysan Rail, Porzana palmeri (Laysan Island, Hawaiian Islands, 1944)
    Hawaiian Rail, Porzana sandwichensis (Big Island, Hawaiian Islands, c.1890)
The Laysan Rail was a diminutive omnivore
The Laysan Rail was a diminutive omnivore
  • Kosrae Island Crake, Porzana monasa (Kosrae, Carolines, c. mid-late 19th century)
    Miller's Crake, Porzana nigra (Tahiti, Society Islands, c.1800)
Known only from paintings and descriptions; taxonomic status uncertain as the material is often believed to refer to the extant Spotless Crake.
  • Saint Helena Swamphen, Aphanocrex podarces (Saint Helena, Atlantic, 16th century) - formerly Atlantisia
    Réunion Swamphen or Oiseau bleu, Porphyrio coerulescens (Réunion, Mascarenes, 18th century)
Known only from descriptions. Former existence of a Porphyrio on Réunion is fairly certain, but not proven to date.
  • New Caledonian Swamphen, Porphyrio kukwiedei from New Caledonia, Melanesia, may have survived into historic times. The native name n'dino is thought to refer to this bird.
    Lord Howe Swamphen, Porphyrio albus (Lord Howe Island, SW Pacific, early 19th century)
    Marquesan Swamphen, Porphyrio paepae (Hiva Oa and Tahuata, Marquesas)
May have survived into the 19th century. In the lower right corner of Paul Gauguin's 1902 painting Le Sorcier d'Hiva Oa ou le Marquisien à la cape rouge there is a bird which reminds of native descriptions of P. paepae.
  • The North Island Takahē, Porphyrio mantelli known from subfossil bones found on North Island, New Zealand, may have survived to 1894 or later.
    Samoan Wood Rail, Gallinula pacifica (Savai'i, Samoa, 1907?)
Probably better placed in the genus Pareudiastes, unconfirmed reports from the late 20th century suggest it still survives in small numbers, and therefore it is officially classified as critically endangered.
  • Makira Wood Rail, Gallinula silvestris (Makira, Solomon Islands, mid-20th century?)
Only known from a single specimen, this rail is probably better placed in its own genus, Edithornis. There are some unconfirmed recent records that suggest it still survives, thus, it is officially classified as critically endangered.
  • Tristan Moorhen, Gallinula nesiotis (Tristan da Cunha, Atlantic, late 19th century)
    Mascarene Coot, Fulica newtoni (Mauritius and Réunion, Mascarenes, c.1700)
    Rallidae gen. et sp. indet.
Unknown rail from Amsterdam Island, one specimen found but not recovered. Extinct by 1800 or may have been straggler of extant species.
  • Fernando de Noronha Rail, Rallidae gen. et sp. indet. (Fernando de Noronha, W Atlantic, 16th century)
A distinct species of rail inhabited Fernando de Noronha island, but it has not been formally described yet. Probably was extant at Western contact.
  • Tahitian "Goose", ?Rallidae gen. et sp. indet. (Tahiti, late 18th century?)
Early travellers to Tahiti reported a "goose" that was found in the mountains. Altogether, a species of the rail genus Porphyrio seems the most likely choice.
  • "Leguat's Giant" or géant, a hypothetical giant rail from the Mascarenes, is based on his descriptions of flamingos, as Leguat was not familiar with their French name flamand or thought that it referred to other birds (it was in his time sometimes used for spoonbills, for example).



  • Colombian Grebe, Podiceps andinus (Bogotá area, Colombia, 1977)
    Alaotra Grebe, Tachybaptus rufolavatus (Lake Alaotra, Madagascar, late 1980s?)
Officially critically endangered, possibly extinct, this species almost certainly became extinct through habitat destruction and hybridization with the Little Grebe.
  • Atitlán Grebe, Podilymbus gigas (Lake Atitlán, Guatemala, 1989)


Herons and related birds.

  • Bermuda Night Neron, Nycticorax carcinocatactes (Bermuda, West Atlantic, 16th century)
Sometimes assigned to the genus Nyctanassa
  • Réunion Night Heron, Nycticorax duboisi (Réunion, Mascarenes, late 17th century)
    Mauritius Night Heron, Nycticorax mauritianus (Mauritius, Mascarenes, c.1700)
    Rodrigues Night Heron, Nycticorax megacephalus (Rodrigues, Mascarenes, mid-18th century)
    Ascension Night Heron, Nycticorax olsoni (Ascension Island, Atlantic, late 16th century?)
Known only from subfossil bones, but the description of a flightless Ascension bird by F. André Thevet cannot be identified with anything other than this species.
  • New Zealand Little Bittern, Ixobrychus novaezelandiae (New Zealand, late 19th century)
Long considered to be vagrant individuals of the Australian Little Bittern, bones recovered from Holocene deposits indicate that this was indeed a distinct taxon, but it might not be a separate species.
  • Réunion Sacred Ibis, Threskiornis solitarius (Réunion, Mascarenes, early 18th century)
This species was the base for the supposed "Réunion Solitaire", a supposed relative of the Dodo and the Rodrigues Solitaire. Given the fact that ibis, but no dodo-like bones were found on Réunion and that old descriptions match a flightless Sacred Ibis quite well, the "Réunion Solitaire" hypothesis has been refuted.
  • The "Painted Vulture" (Sarcorhamphus sacra), a Floridan bird supposedly similar to the King Vulture, is based on a misidentification of the Crested Caracara.


Cormorants and related birds.

  • Spectacled Cormorant, Phalacrocorax perspicillatus (Komandorski Islands, North Pacific, c.1850)


Petrels and storm-petrels.

  • Guadalupe Storm-petrel, Oceanodroma macrodacyla (Guadalupe, East Pacific, 1910s)
Officially critically endangered, possibly extinct, but a thorough survey in 2000 concluded the species was certainly extinct.
  • St Helena Bulwer's Petrel, Bulweria bifax (Saint Helena, Atlantic, early 16th century)
    Jamaica Petrel, Pterodroma caribbaea (Jamaica, West Indies)
Possibly a subspecies of the Black-capped Petrel; unconfirmed reports suggest it might survive. Officially classified as critically endangered, possibly extinct.
  • Pterodroma cf. leucoptera (Mangareva, Gambier Islands, 20th century?)
A wing of a carcass similar to Gould's Petrel was recovered on Mangareva in 1922, where it possibly bred. No such birds are known to exist there today.
  • St Helena Petrel, Pseudobulweria rupinarum (Saint Helena, Atlantic, early 16th century)



  • The Chatham Islands Penguin, Eudyptes sp. (Chatham Islands, SW Pacific), is only known from subfossil bones, but a bird kept captive at some time between 1867 and 1872 might refer to this taxon.


Pigeons, doves and dodos.

  • St Helena Flightless Pigeon, Dysmoropelia dekarchiskos, possibly survived into the Modern Era.
    Passenger Pigeon, Ectopistes migratorius (Eastern North America, 1914)
The passenger pigeon was once probably the most common bird in the world, a single swarm numbering up to several billion birds. It was hunted close to extinction for food and sport in the late 19th century. The last individual died in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.
  • The Silvery Pigeon, Columba argentina, has not been reliably observed since 1931 and may be extinct. It is difficult to distinguish from the common Pied Imperial Pigeon, however.
    Bonin Wood-pigeon, Columba versicolor (Nakodo-jima and Chichi-jima, Ogasawara Islands, c.1890)
    Ryukyu Wood-pigeon, Columba jouyi (Okinawa and Daito Islands, Northwest Pacific, late 1930s)
    Réunion Pink Pigeon, Streptopelia duboisi (Réunion, Mascarenes, c.1700)
Its generic allocation is not fully resolved. There seems to have been at least another species of pigeon on Réunion (probably an Alectroenas), but bones have not yet been found. It disappeared at the same time.
  • Rodrigues Turtle Dove, Streptopelia rodericana (Rodrigues, Mascarenes, before 1690?)
Its generic allocation is not fully resolved. A possible subspecies of the Madagascar Turtle Dove, this seems not to be the bird observed by Leguat. Introduced rats might have killed it off in the late 17th century.
  • Liverpool Pigeon, "Caloenas" maculata
Also known as the Spotted Green Pigeon, the only specimen has been in Liverpool Museum since 1851, and was probably collected on a Pacific island for Edward Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby. It has been suggested that this bird came from Tahiti based on native lore about a somewhat similar extinct bird called titi, but this has not been verified.
  • Sulu Bleeding-heart, Gallicolumba menagei (Tawitawi, Philippines, late 1990s?)
Officially listed as critically endangered. Only known from 2 specimens taken in 1891, there have been a number of unconfirmed reports from all over the Sulu Archipelago in 1995. However, these reports stated that the bird had suddenly undergone a massive decline, and by now, habitat destruction is almost complete. If not extinct, this species is very rare, but the ongoing civil war prevents comprehensive surveys.
  • Norfolk Island Ground Dove, Gallicolumba norfolciensis (Norfolk Island, Southwest Pacific, c.1800)
    Tanna Ground Dove, Gallicolumba ferruginea (Tanna, Vanuatu, late 18th-19th century)
Only known from descriptions of 2 now-lost specimens.
  • Thick-billed Ground Dove, Gallicolumba salamonis (Makira and Ramos, Solomon Islands, mid-20th century?)
Last recorded in 1927, only 2 specimens exist. Declared extinct in 2005.
  • Choiseul Crested Pigeon, Microgoura meeki (Choiseul, Solomon Islands, early 20th century)
    Marquesas Fruit Pigeon, Ptilinopus mercierii (Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa, Marquesas, mid-20th century)
Two subspecies, the little-known P. m. mercierii of Nuku Hiva (extinct mid-late 19th century) and P. m. tristrami of Hiva Oa.
  • Negros Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus arcanus (Negros, Philippines, late 20th century?)
Known only from one specimen taken at the only documented sighting in 1953, the validity of this species has been questioned, but no good alternative to distinct species status has been proposed. Officially critically endangered, it might occur on Panay, but no survey has located it. One possible record in 2002 seems not to have been followed up.
  • Mauritius Blue Pigeon, Alectroenas nitidissima (Mauritius, Mascarenes, c.1830s)
  • Farquhar Blue Pigeon, Alectroenas sp. (Farquhar Group, Seychelles, 19th century)
Only known from early reports; possibly a subspecies of the Comoro or Seychelles Blue Pigeon.
  • Rodrigues Grey Pigeon, "Alectroenas" rodericana (Rodrigues, Mascarenes, mid-18th century)
A mysterious bird of unknown affinities, known from a few bones and, as it seems, two historical reports.
  • Dodo, Raphus cucullatus (Mauritius, Mascarenes, late 17th century)
Called Didus ineptus by Linnaeus. A meter-high flightless bird found on Mauritius. Its forest habitat was lost when Dutch settlers moved to the island and the dodo's nests were destroyed by the monkeys, pigs, and cats the Dutch brought with them. The last specimen was killed in 1681, only 80 years after the arrival of the new predators.
  • Rodrigues Solitaire, Pezophaps solitaria (Rodrigues, Mascarenes, c.1730)
  • For the "Réunion Solitaire"



Mounted specimen of Conuropsis carolinensis, Museum Wiesbaden, Germany
Mounted specimen of Conuropsis carolinensis, Museum Wiesbaden, Germany
  • New Caledonian Lorikeet, Charmosyna diadema (New Caledonia, Melanesia, mid-20th century?)
Officially critically endangered, there have been no reliable reports of this bird since the early 20th century. It is, however, small and inconspicuous.
  • Norfolk Island Kākā, Nestor productus (Norfolk and Philip Islands, SW Pacific, 1851?)
    Society Parakeet, Cyanoramphus ulietanus (Raiatea, Society Islands, late 18th century)
    Black-fronted Parakeet, Cyanoramphus zealandicus (Tahiti, Society Islands, c.1850)
    Paradise Parrot, Psephotus pulcherrimus (Rockhampton area, Australia, late 1920s)
    The Night Parrot, (Pezoporus occidentalis), officially critically endangered, is a mysterious species which might be extinct. It was only reliably recoded twice in the late 20th century, the last time in 1991. More probably, it still persists in small numbers.
    The Pacific Eclectus Parrot, Eclectus infectus, known from subfossil bones found on Tonga, Vanuatu, and possibly Fiji, may have survived until the 18th century: a bird which seems to be a male Eclectus parrot was drawn in a report on the Tongan island of Vava'u by the Malaspina expedition.
    Seychelles Parakeet, Psittacula wardi (Seychelles, W Indian Ocean, 1883)
    Newton's Parakeet, Psittacula exsul (Rodrigues, Mascarenes, c.1875)
    Mascarene Parrot, Mascarinus mascarinus (Réunion and possibly Mauritius, Mascarenes, 1834?)
Last known individual was a captive bird which was alive before 1834.
  • Broad-billed Parrot, Lophopsittacus mauritianus (Mauritius, Mascarenes, 1680?)
May have survived to the late 18th century. A smaller related form described as Mauritius Grey Parrot (Lophopsittacus bensoni) may be the female of L. mauritianus.
  • Rodrigues Parrot, Necropsittacus rodericanus (Rodrigues, Mascarenes, late 18th century)
The species N. francicus is fictional, N. borbonicus most likely so.
  • Glaucous Macaw, Anodorhynchus glaucus (N Argentina, early 20th century)
Officially critically endangered due to persistent rumours of wild birds, but probably extinct.
  • Cuban Red Macaw, Ara tricolor (Cuba, West Indies, late 19th century)
A number of related species have been described from the West Indies, but are not based on good evidence. Several prehistoric forms are now known to have existed in the region, however.
  • Carolina Parakeet, Conuropsis carolinensis (SE North America, c.1930?)
Although the date of the last captive bird's death in the Cincinnati Zoo, 1918, is generally given as extinction date, there are convincing reports of some wild populations persisting until later. 2 subspecies, C. c. carolinensis (east and south of the Appalachian range - extinct 1918 or c.1930) and C. c. ludovicianus (Louisiana Parakeet, west of the Appalachian range - extinct early 1910s).
  • Guadeloupe Parakeet, Aratinga labati (Guadeloupe, West Indies, late 18th century)
Only known from descriptions, the former existence of this bird is likely for biogeographic reasons and because details as described cannot be referred to known species.
  • Sinú Parakeet, Pyrrhura subandina (Colombia, mid-20th century?)
Recently recognized as a distinct species, this bird has a very restricted distribution and was last reliably recorded in 1940. It was not found in 2004 and seems to be extinct.
  • Martinique Amazon, Amazona martinica (Martinique, West Indies, mid-18th century)
    Guadeloupe Amazon, Amazona violacea (Guadeloupe, West Indies, mid-18th century)
The extinct amazon parrots were originally described after travelers' descriptions. Both are nowadays considered valid extinct species closely related to the Imperial Parrot.



  • Delalande's Coua, Coua delalandei (Madagascar, late 19th century?)
    St Helena Cuckoo, Nannococcyx psix (Saint Helena, Atlantic, 16th century)


Birds of prey.

  • Guadalupe Caracara, Polyborus lutosus (Guadelupe, E Pacific, 1900 or 1903)
    Réunion Kestrel, Falco duboisi (Réunion, Mascarenes, c.1700)



  • Réunion Owl, Mascarenotus grucheti (Réunion, Mascarenes, late 17th century?)
    Mauritius Owl, Mascarenotus sauzieri (Mauritus, Mascarenes, c.1850)
    Rodrigues Owl, Mascarenotus murivorus (Rodrigues, Mascarenes, mid-18th century)
    New Caledonian Boobook, Ninox cf. novaeseelandiae (New Caledonia, Melanesia)
Known only from prehistoric bones, but might still survive.
  • Laughing Owl, Sceloglaux albifacies (New Zealand, 1914?)
Two subspecies, S. a. albifacies (South Island and Stewart Island, extinct 1914?) and S. a. rufifacies (North Island, extinct c.1870s?) - circumstantial evidence suggests small remnants survived until the early/mid-20th century.
  • The Puerto Rican Barn Owl, Tyto cavatica, known from prehistoric remains found in caves of Puerto Rico, West Indies, may still have existed in 1912 given reports of the presence of cave-roosting owls.


Nightjars and allies.

  • Jamaican Parauque, Siphonorhis americana (Jamaica, West Indies, late 19th century
Reports of unidentifiable nightjars in habitat appropriate for S. americanus suggest that this cryptic species may still exist. Research into this possibility is currently underway; pending further information, it is classified as critically endangered, possibly extinct.
  • Cuban Parauque, Siphonorhis daiquiri (Cuba, West Indies)
Described from subfossil bones in 1985. There are persistent rumors that this bird, which was never seen alive by scientists, may still survive. Compare Puerto Rican Nightjar.
  • Vaurie's Nightjar, Caprimulgus centralasicus
Only known from a single 1929 specimen from Xinjiang, China. It has never been found again, and it is quite possibly invalid as it has not yet been compared to the similar subspecies of the European Nightjar, C. europaeus plumipes, which occurs at the locality where C. centralasicus was found.


Swifts and hummingbirds.

  • Coppery Thorntail, Discosura letitiae (Bolivia?)
Known only from 3 trade specimens of unknown origin. Might still exist.
  • Brace's Emerald, Chlorostilbon bracei (New Providence, Bahamas, late 19th century)
    Gould's Emerald, Chlorostilbon elegans (Jamaica or northern Bahamas, West Indies, late 19th century)
    Alfaro's Hummingbird, Saucerottia alfaroana (Costa Rica, c.1900)
    Bogota Sunangel, Heliangelus zusii (Colombia?)
A mysterious bird known only from a single specimen of unknown origin. Might be a hybrid (although the specimen is very distinct) or might still exist.
  • Turquoise-throated Puffleg, Eriocnemis godini (Ecuador, 20th century?)
Officially classified as critically endangered, possibly extinct. Known only from 6 pre-1900 specimens, the habitat at the only known site where it occurred has been destroyed. However, the bird's distribution remains unresolved.


Kingfishers and related birds.

  • Ryukyu Kingfisher, Todiramphus miyakoensis (Miyako-jima, Ryukyu Islands, late 19th century)
This was probably a sub-species of the Micronesian Kingfisher Todiramphus cinnamomina. Only seen once by scientists, in 1887; the specimen taken is somewhat damaged, making identification by other than molecular analysis difficult.
  • Giant Hoopoe, Upupa antaois (Saint Helena, Atlantic, early 16th century)


Woodpeckers and related birds.

  • Caatinga Woodpecker, Celeus obrieni (Western Piauí, Brazil, mid-20th century)
This bird is known from a single specimen taken in 1926 and was long believed to be a subspecies of the Rufous-headed Woodpecker. As it was confined to caatinga habitat, which has been largely destroyed where the bird was once found, it is most likely extinct.
  • Imperial Woodpecker, Campephilus imperialis (Mexico, late 20th century)
This 60-centimeter-long woodpecker is officially listed as critically endangered, possibly extinct. Occasional unconfirmed reports come up, the most recent in late 2005.
  • There is currently a major debate on whether the North American Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis principalis) was indeed rediscovered in the White River National Wildlife Refuge of Arkansas in 2004. The Cuban Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis bairdii) was last seen in 1987 and is generally considered extinct, but there are a few patches of habitat not yet surveyed.


Perching birds.

Formicariidae - Antpittas and antthrushes

  • Táchira Antpitta, Grallaria chthonia (Venezuela, late 20th century?)
Officially critically endangered, this species has not been recorded since 1956 and although some habitat still exists, it was not found in dedicated searches in the 1990s.
The famous Stephens Island Wren, victim of feral cats
The famous Stephens Island Wren, victim of feral cats

Acanthisittidae - New Zealand "wrens"

  • Stephens Island Wren, Xenicus lyalli (New Zealand, 1895?)
The species famously (but erroneously) claimed to have been made extinct by a single cat named "Tibbles".
  • Bush Wren, Xenicus longipes (New Zealand, 1972)
3 subspecies: X. l. stokesi - North Island, extinct 1955; X. l. longipes - South Island, extinct 1968; X. l. variabilis - Stewart Island, extinct 1972.

Meliphagidae - Honeyeaters and Australian chats

  • Kioea, Chaetoptila angustipluma (Big Island, Hawaiian Islands, 1860s)
    Hawai‘i ‘O‘o, Moho nobilis (Big Island, Hawaiian Islands, 1930s)
    O‘ahu ‘O‘o, Moho apicalis (O‘ahu, Hawaiian Islands, mid-19th century)
    Moloka‘i ‘O‘o, Moho bishopi (Moloka‘i and probably Maui, Hawaiian Islands, c.1910 or 1980s)
    Kaua‘i ‘O‘o, Moho braccatus (Kaua‘i, Hawaiian Islands, 1987)
    Chatham Island Bellbird, Anthornis melanocephala (Chatham Islands, Southwest Pacific, c.1910)
Unconfirmed records exist from the early-mid 1950s

Pardalotidae - Pardalotes, scrubwrens, thornbills, and gerygones

  • Lord Howe Gerygone, Gerygone insularis (Lord Howe Island, Southwest Pacific, c.1930)

Pachycephalidae - Whistlers, shrike-thrushes, pitohuis and allies

  • Mangarevan Whistler, ?Pachycephala gambierana (Mangareva, Gambier Islands, late 19th century?)
A mysterious bird of which no specimen exists today. It was initially described as a shrike, then classified as an Eopsalteria "robin", and may actually be an Acrocephalus flycatcher.

Dicruridae - Monarch flycatchers and allies

  • Maupiti Monarch, Pomarea pomarea (Maupiti, Society Islands, mid-19th century)
    Eiao Monarch, Pomarea fluxa (Eiao, Marquesas, late 1970s)
Previously considered a subspecies of the Iphis Monarch, this is an early offspring of the Marquesan stock.
  • Nuku Hiva Monarch, Pomarea nukuhivae (Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, mid-late 20th century)
Previously considered a subspecies of the Marquesas Monarch, this is another early offspring of the Marquesan stock.
  • Ua Pou Monarch, Pomarea mira (Ua Pou, Marquesas, c.1986)
Previously considered another subspecies of the Marquesas Monarch, this was a distinct species most closely related to that bird and the Fatuhiva Monarch.
  • Guam Flycatcher, Myiagra freycineti (Guam, Marianas, 1983)

Corvidae - Crows, ravens, magpies and jays

  • Banggai Crow, Corvus unicolor (Banggai or Peleng Island, Indonesia, 20th century?)
Officially critically endangered, it is known only from two specimens taken on an unspecified island at some date in the late 19th century, probably in 1884 or 1885. Possible sightings in 1981 and 1991, but no unequivocal recent records and amount of habitat destruction suggest this species is extinct.

Malaconotidae - Bushshrikes

  • Bulo Burti Boubou, Laniarius liberatus (Somalia, early 1990s?)
Only found once, in 1988, this bird is officially critically endangered, as it may still exist. However, it was never found again despite being looked for, and there seems to be much habitat degradation. Owing to the political situation in Somalia, further research has not been possible.

Vangidae - Vangas

  • Short-toed Nuthatch Vanga, Hypositta perdita (Madagascar, mid-20th century?)
An enigmatic bird known only from 2 recently fledged juveniles collected in 1931, it was not found during a thorough search in 1996.

Turnagridae - Piopio

  • North Island Piopio, Turnagra tanagra (North Island, New Zealand, c.1970?)
Not reliably recoded anymore since about 1900.
  • South Island Piopio, Turnagra capensis (South Island, New Zealand, 1960s?)
Two subspecies, T. c. minor from Stephens Island (extinct c.1897) and the nominate T. c. capensis from the South Island mainland (last specimen taken in 1902, last unconfirmed record in 1963)
Male (front) and female (back) Huia
Male (front) and female (back) Huia

Callaeidae - New Zealand wattlebirds

  • Huia, Heteralocha acutirostris (North Island, New Zealand, early 20th century)

Estrildidae - Estrildid finches (waxbills, munias, etc)

  • Black-lored Waxbill, Estrilda nigriloris (D.R. Congo, Africa, late 20th century?)
An enigmatic waxbill not seen since 1950; since part of its habitat is in Upemba National Park it may survive.

Parulidae - New World warblers

  • Bachman's Warbler, Vermivora bachmanii (Southern USA, c.1990?)
Officially critically endangered, possibly extinct
  • Semper's Warbler, Leucopeza semperi (Saint Lucia, Caribbean, 1970s)

Icteridae - Grackles

  • Slender-billed Grackle, Quiscalus palustris (Mexico, 1910)

Fringillidae - True finches

  • Tawny-headed Mountain Finch, Leucosticte sillemi (Xinjiang, mid-/late 20th century?)
An enigmatic bird known from just 2 specimens collected in 1929. As no threats are known, probably still extant, but the lack of recent records is puzzling.
  • Bonin Grosbeak, Chaunoproctus ferreorostris (Chichi-jima, Bonin Islands, 1830s)

Drepanididae - Hawaiian honeycreepers

  • ‘O‘u, Psittirostra psittacea (Hawaiian Islands, c.2000?)
Officially classified as critically endangered, possibly extinct, this was once the most widespread species of Hawaiian honeycreeper. It has not been reliably recorded since 1987 or 1989.
  • Lana‘i Hookbill, Dysmorodrepanis munroi (Lana‘i, Hawaiian Islands, 1918)
    The Kaua‘i Palila, Loxioides kikuichi (Kaua‘i, Hawaiian Islands), possibly survived to the early 18th century.
    Lesser Koa Finch, Rhodacanthus flaviceps (Big Island, Hawaiian Islands, 1891)
    Greater Koa Finch, Rhodacanthus palmeri (Big Island, Hawaiian Islands, 1896)
    Kona Grosbeak Finch, Psittirostra kona (Big Island, Hawaiian Islands, 1894)
    Greater ‘Amakihi, Hemignathus sagittirostris (Big Island, Hawaiian Islands, 1901)
    Hawai‘i ‘Akialoa, Akialoa obscura (Big Island, Hawaiian Islands, 1940)
    Maui Nui ‘Akialoa, Akialoa lanaiensis (Lana‘i and prehistorically probably Maui and Moloka‘i, Hawaiian Islands 1892)
    O‘ahu ‘Akialoa, Akialoa ellisiana (O‘ahu, Hawaiian Islands, 1940)
    Kaua‘i ‘Akialoa, Akialoa stejnegeri (Kaua‘i, Hawaiian Islands, 1969)
    Nukupu‘u, Hemignathus lucidus (Hawaiian Islands, c.2000?)
The subspecies from O‘ahu (H. l. lucidus) is extinct since the late 19th century, that of Kaua‘i (H. l. hanapepe) most probably since the late 1990s and that of Maui (H. l. affinis) has not been reliably seen since 1995. It is currently classified as critically endangered, possibly extinct.
  • Kakawahie, Paroreomyza flammea (Moloka‘i, Hawaiian Islands, 1963)
    O‘ahu ‘Alauahio, Paroreomyza maculata (O‘ahu, Hawaiian Islands, early 1990s?)
Officially classified as critically endangered, possibly extinct. Last reliable record was in 1985, with an unconfirmed sighting in 1990.
  • ‘Ula-‘ai-hawane, Ciridops anna (Big Island, Hawaiian Islands, 1892 or 1937)
    Black Mamo, Drepanis funerea (Moloka‘i, Hawaiian Islands, 1907)
    Hawai‘i Mamo, Drepanis pacifica (Big Island, Hawaiian Islands, 1898)
    Po‘o-uli, Melamprosops phaeosoma (Maui, Hawaiian Islands, 2004?)
The most recent extinction on this list. What was most likely the last known bird has died in captivity on 28 November 2004.

Emberizidae - Buntings and American sparrow

  • Hooded Seedeater, Sporophila melanops (Brazil, 20th century?)
Officially classified as critically endangered, possibly extinct. It is known only from a single male collected in 1823, and has variously been considered an aberrant Yellow-bellied Seedeater or a hybrid.

Hirundinidae - Swallows and martins

  • White-eyed River Martin, Pseudochelidon sirintarae (Thailand, late 1980s?)
Officially critically endangered, this enigmatic species is only known from migrating birds and it was last seen in 1986 at its former roost site. Recent unconfirmed repors suggest it may occur in Cambodia.
  • Red Sea Swallow, Petrochelidon perdita (Red Sea area, late 20th century?)
Known from a single specimen, this enigmatic swallow probably still exists, but the lack of recent records is puzzling.

Sylviidae - Old World warblers

  • Aldabra Brush Warbler, Nesillas aldabranus (Aldabra, Indian Ocean, c.1984)
    Large-billed Reed Warbler, Acrocephalus orinus (India, 20th century?)
A mysterious bird known only from a 1867 specimen that was long considered invalid, but has recently been determined to be a very distinct species. It may still exist and simply have been overlooked due to the former fact.
  • Chatham Islands Fernbird, Bowdleria rufescens (Chatham Islands, New Zealand, c.1900)
Often placed in genus Megalurus, but this is based on an incomplete review of the evidence.

Cisticolidae - Cisticolas and allies

  • Tana River Cisticola, Cisticola restrictus (Kenya, 1970s?)
A mysterious bird, found in the Tana River basin in small numbers at various dates, but not anymore since 1972. Probably invalid, based on aberrant or hybrid specimens.

Zosteropidae - White-eyes

  • Seychelles White-eye, Zosterops semiflava (Marianne, Seychelles, early 20th century)
Sometimes considered a subspecies of the Mayotte White-eye. Possibly occurred on other islands in the Seychelles as well.
  • Lord Howe White-eye, Zosterops strenua (Lord Howe Island, Southwest Pacific, c.1918)

Timaliidae - Old World babblers

  • Black-browed Babbler, Malacocincla perspicillata (Borneo?, Indonesia, 20th century?)
Known from a single mid-19th century specimen, this bird may be extinct or could still exist. If the specimen label, usually considered erroneous in claiming "Java" as the bird's origin, is correct, it may have gone extinct earlier.

Muscicapidae - Old World Flycatchers and chats

  • Rueck's Blue Flycatcher, Cyornis ruckii (Malaysia or Indochina, 20th century?)
An enigmatic bird known from 2 or 4 possibly migrant specimens, last recorded in 1918. Might exist in NE Indochina and might be a subspeices of the Hainan Blue Flycatcher.

Turdidae - Thrushes and allies

  • Grand Cayman Thrush, Turdus ravidus (Grand Cayman, West Indies, late 1940s)
    Bonin Thrush, Zoothera terrestris (Chichi-jima, Bonin Islands, c.1830s)
    ‘Āmaui, Myadestes woahensis (O‘ahu, Hawaiian Islands, mid-19th century)
    Kāma‘o, Myadestes myadestinus (Kaua‘i, Hawaiian Islands, 1990s)
    Oloma‘o, Myadestes lanaiensis (Hawaiian Islands, 1980s?)
Officially critically endangered, possibly extinct because a possible location on Moloka‘i remains unsurveyed. Two subspecies are known from Lana‘i (M. l. lanaiensis, extinct early 1930s), Moloka‘i (M. l. rutha, extinct 1980s?) and a possible third subspecies from Maui (extinct before late 19th century).

Sturnidae - Starlings

  • Kosrae Island Starling, Aplonis corvina (Kosrae, Carolines, mid-19th century)
    Mysterious Starling, Aplonis mavornata (Mauke, Cook Islands, mid-19th century)
    Tasman Starling, Aplonis fusca (Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island, Southwest Pacific, c.1923)
Two subspecies, A. f. fusca - Norfolk Island Starling (extinct c.1923); A. fuscus hulliana - Lord Howe Starling (extinct c.1919).
  • Pohnpei Starling, Aplonis pelzelni (Pohnpei, Micronesia, c.2000)
Only once reliable record since 1956, in 1995, leaves the species' survival seriously in doubt.
  • Bay Starling, Aplonis ulietensis (Raiatea, Society Islands, between 1774 and 1850)
Usually called "Bay Thrush"; a completely mysterious bird from Raiatea, now only known from a painting and some descriptions of a (now lost) specimen. Its taxonomic position is thus unresolvable at present, although for biogeographic reasons and because of the surviving description, it has been suggested to have been a honeyeater. However, with the discovery of fossils of the prehistorically extinct starling Aplonis diluvialis on neighboring Huahine, it seems likely that this bird also belonged into this genus.
  • Bourbon Crested Starling, Fregilupus varius (Réunion, Mascarenes, 1850s)
    Rodrigues Starling, Necropsar rodericanus (Rodrigues, Mascarenes, late 18th century?)
The bird variously described as Testudophaga bicolor, Necropsar leguati or Orphanopsar leguati which was considered to be identical with N. rodericanus (which is only known from fossils) was finally resolved to be based on a misidentified partially albinistic specimen of the Martinique Trembler (Cinclocerthia gutturalis) (Olson et al., Bull. B.O.C. 125:31).

See also

External links and references

List adapted, expanded and updated from that in Extinct Birds, Fuller, ISBN 0-19-850837-9 (Extinct Birds is an absorbing study of the world's recently extinct bird species, the first complete survey since Walter Rothschild's classic work of 1907)

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