With the arrival of Spring my mind once again returns to thoughts of tracking down wonderful and elusive birds. While often those birds are local, I have allowed my mind to start wandering to places beyond. Inevitably, the more experience one gets as a “birder” the more one yearns to learn about birds from around the world. As you start to gain knowledge of these rare birds, you begin to understand the threats they face for survival and the amazing conservation efforts in place to help support them and their habitat. Threatened birds all over the world face similar challenges, and the best of us rise to face these challenges in the any way we can. To that end, Princeton Wild Guides (publisher), to help support BirdLife International‘s Preventing Extinctions Programme, have produced an outstanding book by Erik Hirschfeld, Andy Swash, and Robert Still entitled The World’s Rarest Birds. The book highlights over 500 of the most critically endangered birds globally and is a dramatic collection of pictures, statistics (endemic densities, localized and global threats, and most impressively QRC codes for each bird that route you to the relevant species factsheet on BirdLife International’s website) and population information.
While I found the book amazingly detailed, I personally have little experience with most of the birds described (I did see one of the North American representatives in the highly localized Golden-cheeked Warbler in my trip to Texas in 2011). I hope, over the rest of my life, to rectify that problem. Jeanette and I took part in such an activity this past Fall in a trip to Hawaii. Hawaii has an amazing ecosystem and its endemic birds are incredibly threatened by dwindling habitat and disease from Mosquitoes and human introduced animals to the archipelago. It was an amazing experience for us and we were lucky enough to see and photograph two stellar representatives of this highly threatened group in the ‘Akikiki on Kaua’i and the Akiapola’au on the Big Island. I was happy to find them listed and sad to be reminded of their plight.
If you are like me, it is hard not to get attached to the birds we seek out and it is impossible to avoid the predicament they face in the modern developing world. Do yourself a favor, and become personally aware of the conservation priorities associated with the birds we have such a passion for. Learn not only more about the threats they face, but also more about the amazing birds themselves each at the edge of a dwindling populace around the globe. Its a great read and a exceptional contribution the the global Ornithological community. Check it out!