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extinction

An Elegy to the Elephant Bird

Elephant BirdAepyornis maximusIn 1658, the French governor of Madagascar described a giant birddwelling in the island's remote reaches. Over ten feet tall,the bird weighed a thousand pounds and laid the biggest egg on record:over a foot long and equal in volume to seven ostrich eggs,180 chicken... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  reflection

Elephant Birds Laid Really Big Eggs

What bird laid the largest eggs ever known? To date, the record holder is the now-extinct Elephant Bird, a relative of the present-day Ostrich and other large, flightless birds, including rheas, cassowaries, and kiwis. Up to the late 1600s, Elephant Birds lived on the island of Madagascar. But by... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Eoornis - A Bird of the Gobi Desert

The critically endangered Eoörnis of the Gobi Desert was first described in scientific literature in the late 1920s. This bird is known informally as the Woofen-poof — because of the sound it makes when it takes off from the desert sand. It is easily recognized in flight by its semi... read more »

Snowy Egret - Killer Hats

Today you’ll find Snowy Egrets in the south and central United States and in remnant wetlands along the Atlantic coast. But once, they were rare. During the late 1800s, millions of birds – including Snowy Egrets – were killed annually to adorn the hats of fashionable ladies. Outraged citizens... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

The Lost Bird Project

In a forest on Martha’s Vineyard, a Heath Hen struts through the brush. Columbus, Ohio, harbors a Passenger Pigeon. In Okeechobee, Florida, you can find a Carolina Parakeet. A Great Auk scans the Atlantic Ocean from atop a rock on Fogo Island, Newfoundland. A sea-going Labrador Duck rests near... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

Kingdom of Rarities - Featuring Eric Dinerstein

Why are some creatures rare and others common? What forces – natural and manmade – cause rarity? Eric Dinerstein travels far and wide for answers. He wonders how different the world could be with a few changes: “. . . what if we started caring about rare wildlife with the same intensity as we do... read more »

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Extinction and Islands - Interview with George Wallace

Hawaii has more bird species in danger of extinction than anywhere else in the United States. George Wallace of American Bird Conservancy explains that a long period of evolution in isolation gives rise to specialized island species. Birds that nest on the ground don't have any natural resistance... read more »

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Kauai O'o, Hawaiian Forest Bird

The Kaua'i O'o, a small forest bird, was once found on the Hawaiian Island of Kaua'i. Sadly, the O'o's song was heard for the last time in 1987. The native birds of the Hawaiian Islands have been hit hard by changes brought about by humans. Habitat destruction, introduction of non-native species,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Rare Sounds Saved by Macaulay Library

The tranquil song of the Kaua'i O'o graced the high, dense forests of Kaua'i until 1987, when it was heard no more. The voice of only one member of this family of birds, now all extinct, remains immortalized on tape. The Macaulay Library maintains the largest collection of bird sounds in the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  sound, vocalization

Time Changes All Things

Not that long ago, Passenger Pigeons filled the skies. Some flocks, with more than a billion birds, took four days to pass overhead. Aldo Leopold called the pigeon "a biological storm." Now they are extinct, gone forever from our world. But other birds remain! This spring, go out and delight in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  reflection

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