Rare Wings

The capacity for flight has helped birds adapt to a changing environment but extinction is becoming increasingly more probable for a worrying number of bird species.

Whooping Crane (Grus americana)  Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas. January. Photographer: Peter Cavanagh

Whooping Crane (Grus americana) Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas. January. Photographer: Peter Cavanagh

The population of Whooping Cranes (above) reached a low of less than 20 birds in the 1940s. Today, after drastic measures such as hand-rearing and guided flight to new wintering grounds, there are now about 600 Whooping Cranes alive.

It is estimated that, since 1500, one species of birds per year has been driven to extinction by human actions such as destruction of habitat, hunting, or introduction of non-native predators.

Education is vital to convince the next generation that no more bird species should be allowed to disappear forever.

California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) Big Sur, CA.  June. Photographer: Peter Cavanagh

California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) Big Sur, CA. June. Photographer: Peter Cavanagh

The recovery of the California Condor (above) from 27 birds in 1987 to more than 200 free-flying birds today is still precarious. At least 50% of wild birds in California have dangerous levels of lead in their blood because they have eaten carrion shot with lead bullets.

LEARN MORE ABOUT RARE BIRDS

KIDS QUESTION: In the museum exhibit, we asked: What can you do to help protect birds?

The answer is: Learn why birds are threatened and become a champion for wildlife
The Audubon Society has estimated that almost half the bird species in the United States are threatened by global warming. Learning why birds and other animals are at risk and working to change the causes can prevent future extinctions. Visit these websites for a good start:

http://www.wbu.com/pathwaysforkids/

http://www.kidsdiscover.com/spotlight/endangered-species/