As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday 16 February 2018

Is This the Year the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow Goes Extinct?

With just a few dozen left in the wild, things don’t look good for these critically endangered birds. But a captive-breeding program could help save them.

January 31, 2018 - by John R. Platt
Mary Peterson, USFWS

This year the United States could experience its first bird extinction in more than three decades.
That’s the warning from the scientists and conservationists working to protect the critically endangered Florida grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus). Once common in the grasslands of central Florida, this geographically isolated subspecies has experienced a catastrophic population decline since the 1970s, mostly due to habitat loss and degradation. Although the tiny birds have been protected by the Endangered Species Act since 1986, their numbers have continued to fall — to the point where recovery now seems next to impossible. A survey last year found that just 22 females and 53 males remained in the wild — and that was before 2017’s hurricane season and record-setting winter cold snaps.

“Extinctions really happen,” warns Paul Reillo, zoologist and president of the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation in Loxahatchee, Fla. “This is going to be North America’s next extinct bird if we do nothing.”

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