It's nothing new that various animal species have become extinct at an alarmingly fast rate these days. Many people aren't aware of how serious the situation is for some birds you wouldn't expect to find on a list of vulnerable and endangered bird species.
If you wonder why you rarely hear about these species as endangered or vulnerable, the answer is simple: People prefer to focus on the more glamorous, endangered birds like the Golden Eagle or the cute Kiwi.
African Gray Parrot
These clever parrots are popular pets - which is exactly the reason why they aren’t doing so well number-wise. The pet trade is one of the main reasons why African Gray Parrots are seriously endangered.
Between 90 and 99% of the African Gray Parrot population in Ghana has been lost since 1992. Not only do a lot of parrots die before they even make it to their final destination, but pets generally do not reproduce.
In addition, these parrots, along with others, are also hunted for use in traditional medicines.
While Starlings are not endangered internationally and are even seen as a pest in the USA, their numbers have declined throughout Europe, especially in the UK.
In the UK, starlings are red listed as “birds of high conservation concern”. The reason for this could be a change in agricultural practices which led to a decline in a common food source for starlings. Numbers have been declining since the mid-1970s.
Snowy Owls have been hit hard in the last two decades, and their numbers are seriously declining. One of the main reasons for this is climate change. Between that and human interference, snowy owls are losing large bits of their natural habitat.
Climate change also affects lemming populations, which are an important part of Snowy Owls' diet. In addition, warmer temperatures aren't a Snowy Owl's best friend. Hyperthermia, the opposite of hypothermia, could soon become a real issue for Snowies.
Peafowl, often called peacocks, even though that's just the male half, are a common attraction in zoos, castle parks, and other places. You wouldn't think they are endangered, but some subspecies of peafowl are listed as vulnerable.
You don't see peafowl in their natural habitat often, as numbers are sadly declining. While populations of the Indian peacock (or blue peacock) are currently more or less stable, the other two subspecies, the Green peacock and the Congo peacock, are not doing so well.
Hummingbirds are beautiful little birds, and people often attract them to their gardens with special Hummingbird feeders. You may think that birds that turn up in people’s gardens can’t be threatened by extinction, but some are.
It’s a complex topic, as there are well over 300 known species of Hummingbirds. It takes a lot of effort to keep track of their movements and numbers.
It is known that over 30 species are vulnerable, and 8 of those are regarded as critically endangered. This means there's a 50% chance they could be extinct in the next ten years.
When I was young, sparrows seemed to be everywhere. Watching them darting around the place and hearing them singing was fun. It has been years since I've seen a sparrow. Sadly, house sparrows are becoming a less common sight for most people.
The problem is insecticides and a general loss in biodiversity. House sparrows have declined in the USA and Europe for decades, with some calling it a mass extinction. In the UK, they are red listed as a species of high conservation concern.
You may call them seagulls, but that's not their right name. There are many species of gulls, and not all of them spend most of their time near the sea. To many people's disbelief, some gulls are rapidly declining in numbers.
Gull species classified as vulnerable, endangered, or near threatened include Herring Gulls, Audouin's gull, relict gulls, lava gulls, and Saunders's gulls.
There are many reasons why gulls aren’t thriving - but the major reason is people and their negative effect on gulls’ lives. Examples are overfishing, littering, destruction of natural habitats, and feeding gulls unhealthy food.
Fortunately, gulls have a protected status in some countries, which means harming or interfering with their nesting sites is illegal. It may be a little too late, unfortunately.
Looking at the large number of endangered bird species on the IUCN red list, for example, is quite depressing. Sadly, little can be done for some critically endangered species.
You can educate yourself about local bird species and how well they do. You could also contact a local bird rescue or wildlife center. Ask them what you can do to help. Volunteers are usually very welcome!