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 30 November 2018

First European bird extinction for 170 years

After nearly 40 years without a confirmed sighting, Common Buttonquail has become the first bird to be declared extinct in Europe since Great Auk.
Better known by European birders as Andalusian Hemipode, the species has been officially classified as Extinct by the Ecological Transition of the Spanish Government, with extensive searches in southern Spain during the last two decades failing to unearth any remnant populations of this elusive species. The last confirmed Spanish record was in 1981 near Doñana National Park and while reliable observations – often of singing birds – were made into the 2000s, none was fully accepted.
Unlike Great Auk, Common Buttonquail is not globally extinct, and is in fact widely distributed in Africa and Asia. It maintains a flimsy foothold in the Western Palearctic, with a small and declining population of the nominate subspecies sylvaticus found in traditional farmland in parts of coastal Morocco. This population was undiscovered for decades, and only came to public light in 2011 following a paper published in Dutch Birding. In Europe however, Spain represented the last vestige for Common Buttonquail, with the only other populations in Sicily and Portugal likely becoming extinct in the 1920s and 1970s respectively.

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