Chances are you’ve never seen an ivory-billed woodpecker. The amazing and long-standing endangered bird species has eluded bird watchers for generations, sending people deep into the swamps of the Southeastern United States just to glimpse the “Lord God” bird – so-called for the chorus that people who managed to spot it would say. But opportunities to see the elusive woodpecker have officially run out: it, along with 21 other species of animals and one species of plant, was declared extinct by the US government on Wednesday.
Join the ivory-billed woodpecker on the list of species that have disappeared entirely from the face of the earth: Bachman’s warbler, Hawaiian forest bird Kauai O’o, mariana bat, eight different species of mussels from freshwater, two types of fish and eight other types of birds. The only plant to be eliminated from the survivor pool was phyllostegia glabra var. lanaiensis, a long-standing endangered plant that liked to hang out in the humid and humid forests of Hawaii.
It’s surprisingly rare for the government to abandon the search for a species and simply put the extinct tag on them. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, a species can be declared extinct if it has not been spotted for at least 50 years or if there is “no reasonable doubt that the last member is deceased” . In some cases, the declaration of death is tragic, but beautiful. What is believed to be the last song of the Kauai O’o bird, a male bird calling out a female who will never come, was captured on tape in 1987. The case of the ivory-billed woodpecker is closer to the Abandonment of the cause: While birders have searched for the bird for generations and occasionally report sightings, confirmation of its continued existence has not followed. If he still exists, he does so as a ghost.
The loss of all species to extinction is tragic. It also runs the risk of upsetting an ecosystem. Each species contributes in one way or another to its environment, whether it is feeding on invasive plants to keep them from taking over or serving as prey for larger predators that roam the area. . When they disappear, so does a chain that holds the ecosystem together.
It is unfortunate that such declarations of extinction are likely to become more common. As the planet warms due to human activity, almost all species will see their environment change around them. Many of them will not survive. It is estimated that up to 1 million species will be threatened with extinction over the next decades. Some experts are warning that we are rushing towards a sixth mass extinction event, with the death rate only accelerating as we continue to pump greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.
Document your favorite plants and animals now. You never know when you might capture the last image of a dying species.