Blue parrot featured in movie Rio is now highly likely to be extinct in the wild

The Spix's macaw is among the eight bird species that are set to become the first bird extinctions to be confirmed this decade.
The Spix's macaw is among the eight bird species that are set to become the first bird extinctions to be confirmed this decade.PHOTO: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

The bright blue parrot that inspired the animated film Rio in 2011 is now highly likely to be extinct in the wild, according to a new study.

The Spix's macaw is among the eight bird species that are set to become the first bird extinctions to be confirmed this decade, said scientists from bird conservation group BirdLife International. The group is a partnership of conservation organisations worldwide, and is based in Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

Five of the eight confirmed or suspected extinctions happened in South America, with four of these in Brazil, BirdLife said. It said that this reflected the "devastating effects" of the high rate of deforestation in the region.

The study was conducted over eight years, and had used a statistical approach to analyse 51 critically endangered species. It had determined the results based on the intensity of threats, timing and reliability of records, and the timing and quantity of search efforts for the species.

Dr Stuart Butchart, BirdLife's chief scientist and lead author of the paper told the BirdLife website on Wednesday (Sept 5): "Ninety per cent of bird extinctions in recent centuries have been of species on islands.

"However, our results confirm that there is a growing wave of extinctions sweeping across the continents, driven mainly by habitat loss and degradation from unsustainable agriculture and logging."

BirdLife suggested that the Spix's macaw should be reclassified as being extinct in the wild, from its current critically endangered (possibly extinct in the wild) status. It said that the bird had been affected by deforestation and other factors such as the creation of a dam and trapping for wild trade.

But a lifeline remains, with an estimated 60 to 80 of the macaws still remaining in captivity.

Of the other seven species flagged by the study, three - the cryptic treehunter, the alagoas foliage-gleaner and the poo-uli - were recommended to be reclassified as extinct.

Four other species - the New Caledonian lorikeet, the Javan lapwing , the Pernambuco pygmy-owl and the glaucous macaw - were recommended to be reclassified as critically endangered (possibly extinct). This category indicates the the species is highly likely to be extinct, but further search efforts will be needed before it can be definitively ruled as so.