We Lose Birds to Extinction: Serious Exploration Finds More

The Taliabu Grasshopper-Warbler is one of ten new bird species and subspecies described by ornithologist Frank Rheindt. (Photo by James Eaton/Birdtour Asia)

Ten New Bird Species and Subspecies Found in Indonesia

By Theresa Machemer/Smithsonianmag.com

After a six-week expedition in 2013 and 2014, researchers have now described five new species and five new subspecies of birds in Indonesia. The ten-taxa haul, published today in the journal Science, marks the biggest discovery of new kinds of birds in over a century.

The team, led by ornithologist Frank Rheindt, focused on three small islands. Reviewing previous collection expeditions, Rheindt noticed that the eleven past trips were either brief or limited to the coast. None had ventured far inland or to high elevations, leaving behind an opportunity for discovery, so Rheindt focused his trip on those understudied areas. But rising wildfire risk and logging activity on the islands is already threatening the birds’ habitat.

“Our world needs a new impetus, a renaissance in biodiversity discovery,” Rheindt tells Jason Gregg at Audubon magazine. “We need more of that now because we can only conserve what we know.”

Birds are considered a well-known wing of the map of life, and on average only five or six new bird species have been described each year since 1999. Per Audubon, the team made use of abandoned logging roads to climb 3,600 feet to reach their destinations: the peaks of Taliabu island’s tallest mountains. Read More:


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  1. According to a new study, North America lost about 3 billion birds from 1970 to 2017. Among them are 19 of the most common bird species, including sparrows, warblers, finches and blackbirds. Only in North America, 389 out of 604 bird species can disappear due to climate change – that is, almost two-thirds of the total. This process is also observed in other parts of the world – deforestation, the active use of pesticides that kill insects in the fields, and a change in the natural habitat become its cause.
    Climate change is not the only factor reducing the bird population, but it exacerbates ongoing problems. Birds die out due to active urbanization – they collide with buildings and die under the claws of domestic cats. Studies show that cats in the United States alone kill hundreds of millions of birds a year, power lines – up to 147 million, glass windows – up to a billion birds. For comparison, from the blades of wind farms in the United States annually die from 10 thousand to 40 thousand birds.

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