Top 5 Rarest Birds in the World

Seen by only a handful of people across the globe, these are the top five rarest birds in the world today.

Jun 17, 2024byAlex Guse
rarest birds in the world

These five birds face a variety of reasons why they are widely considered the rarest birds on the planet. Many factors, including climate change, deforestation, or just being sneaky, have helped land each of these birds a prominent spot on this top five rarest bird list.

1. Kakapo

Kakapo
Image credit: Medium

The Kakapo is a flightless bird native to New Zealand. They are, in fact, the only parrot that cannot fly. They cannot fly because they also hold the record for the heaviest parrot, hitting the scales at or around eight pounds. Because these birds cannot fly, they have become easy prey for predators.

An estimated 250 wild Kakapo exist now, landing this rare bird on the endangered species list. This decline can lend itself to the bird’s inability to fly and its sporadic breeding cycle. These birds will breed only once every two to three years when the Rimu tree begins fruiting.

The bird’s rarity can also be attributed to its nocturnal nature. Alongside other nocturnal creatures, the Kakapo comes out at night to feed on various fruits that reside in the forests of New Zealand.

Sadly, because it cannot fly, it’s an easy target for predators. What’s more, its habitat being destroyed for logging, causing this bird to become rarer and rarer. Today, there are many conservation efforts that hope to bring the Kakapo back from the brink of extinction.

2. Cebu Flowerpecker

Cebu Flowerpecker
Image credit: Facebook

The Cebu flowerpecker is a bird that owes its placement at number four to habitat destruction. Due to poor forest conservation on its native island of Cebu in the Philippines, this bird was thought to have gone extinct in the early 1900s. In 1992, researchers started an expedition and were amazed to discover some birds still in the wild.

The Cebu flowerpecker is not only rare because of its dwindling population (an estimated 80 to 100 in 2019), but it’s also very small––smaller than many hummingbirds. The flowerpecker Measuring a measly 2-4 inches, is hard to spot these birds in the three remaining forested areas of Cebu.

Size, habitat loss, and low population numbers are why the Cebu flowerpecker is number two on our list.

3. Bahama Nuthatch

Bahama Nuthatch
Image credit: The Arkansas Democrat Gazette

To say the Bahama nuthatch has had a tough go at life would be an understatement. These tiny birds have taken hit after hit; from wildfires to hurricanes, they cannot seem to catch a break.

These birds may be small (3 to 4in), but what they lack in stature, they make up for in survivability. The nuthatch lives in small pine forests in the Bahamas, as its name’s sake provides. In 2016, Hurricane Mathew ripped through the nuthatch’s home, eradicating the population. Many experts thought the bird to be extinct.

In 2018, a group of researchers set off to find this small avian creature in various Caribbean pine forests. The team discovered there were still some alive, spotting six total. The following year in 2019, Hurricane Dorian came knocking on the door of the Bahama nuthatch, effectively killing the rest of the population. Many believe this bird to be extinct, but it hasn’t been officially confirmed.

This nuthatch has been absent since 2018. It can blame its extensive lack of luck with the weather and its size as to why it is number three on our list of endangered bird species.

4. Spix’s Macaw

spix macaw
Image credit: Smithsonian Magazine

This two-foot blue macaw (not to be confused with the similarly named scarlet macaw) was widely popularized in the hit movie “Rio.” It arrives at number two because of its lack of exposure in its natural habitat. These birds have been extinct in the wild for nearly 22 years!

The Spix’s macaw is a victim of deforestation of its habitat in northeastern Brazil as well as an easy target for poachers and predatory animals alike. Logging effectively destroyed these birds’ entire ecosystem in the early 1900s, and by that point, conservation work was inconsistent at best.

The Spix’s macaw’s story is not one of tragedy but of redemption. After being declared extinct for two decades, conservationists have begun breeding the 150 macaws left in captivity. In June of 2022, eight were reintroduced into the world, with 11 more slated to be released in December of the same year. Today, many of these birds thrive in reputable zoos all over the world, with plans to introduce more back into the wild.

What makes this bird rare? They have gone from the edge of extinction back to existing outside of sanctuaries, with less than a dozen currently inhabiting their indigenous habitat.

5.Philippine Dwarf Kingfisher

Philippine Kingfisher
Image credit: X

The Philippine dwarf kingfisher is last on this list because it still has relatively large population estimates compared to its cohorts. What makes this bird the rarest bird in the world is its incredible ability to remain elusive after such a long period.

Only found in Mindanao in the Philippines, this bird also has seen its rarity increase due to inclement weather, such as hurricanes and deforestation becoming a factor. Yet, these aren’t the reasons why this bird is so rare.

The bird was first discovered in 1890, and since then, a picture of a fledgling dwarf kingfisher has not been taken. In 2020, Dr. Miguel David De Leon changed all this due to a ten-year expedition finally coming to fruition in photographing the fledgling.

Dr. Leon contends that the bird’s rarity is due to its nature and size, but none can argue that eluding photographers for 130 years solidifies the kingfisher’s top spot as the world’s rarest bird.

Alex Guse
byAlex Guse

Alex is the proud owner of Chester the puggle (beagle pug mix); his first dog was Zion, an Australian shepherd, which translated into a love for animals at an early age. He has since owned many pets, from dogs to reptiles and everything in between. His true passion for animals comes from being an outdoorsman. He finds that nature is where knowledge and respect for wildlife are paramount!