Tag Archive for extinction

Labrador Duck

The Labrador Duck is the first North American bird that we are aware of to become extinct. It was rare by the time that Europeans arrived in North America, so information on the bird is a bit sketchy, but it seems to have wintered on the shores of New England, Long Island, and New Jersey, and probably nested and bred…

Stephens Island Wren

  Stephens Island is a tiny bit of land off the northernmost tip of the South Island of New Zealand. It was called Takapourewa by the Maori. The best known residents of Stephens Island are the tuatara, a rare and exotic species of reptile native to New Zealand,  the Stephens Island Wren, a nocturnal and flightless species of wren native only…

Kangaroo and King Island Emus

One of the things I’ve learned from the great book The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions by David Quammen is that funny things happen on islands. Species get smaller or larger, or weirder and more complex. Islands are where you find hundred of lemurs, giant tortoises, dwarf elephants, gigantic flesh-eating lizards, and other exotic creatures. Both…

New Zealand Quail

  The New Zealand Quail (Coturnix novaezelandiae) has been officially extinct since 1875. Sir Joseph Banks was the first westerner to describe it; he was an illustrious naturalist, mostly interested in botany, who accompanied Captain James Cook on his famous sea voyage from 1768–1771, exploring the globe and dispersing invasive species around the world. Cook took several jaunts around the globe, often…

Passenger Pigeon

Probably the best-known extinct American bird is the Passenger Pigeon: Estimates of the total number of passenger pigeons at the turn of the nineteenth century are around 3 billion, 25 to 40% of all the breeding birds in America. Pigeon migration was a spectacle, as described by John James Audubon: I dismounted, seated myself on an eminence, and began to…