Blue bird from 'Rio' now extinct in the wild

Mindy Sparks
September 12, 2018

The Spix's Macaw, known for its attractive blue color and its feature on the movie Rio, is now extinct in the wild, according to a new study.

The study that determined the new bird extinctions attributed the tragedies to a usual suspect, but also discovered a disturbing trend.

The Spix's macaw parrot, which was fictionalized as "Blu", achieved onscreen fame in the 20th Century Fox's "Rio" as a handsome blue bird who flew all the way to Rio de Janeiro in an attempt to save his species.

The animated film follows Blu, a macaw from Minnesota on an adventure to Rio de Janeiro with the bird of his dreams.

Brazil is a hot spot for bird extinctions.

The species is now considered extinct in the wild, although some of the birds survive in breeding programs.

According to BirdLife, that carried out a statistical analysis of 51 species categorised as "Critically Endangered", a captive population of between 60-80 of the blue parrots is all that remains.

The Brazilian cryptic treehunter, Brazilian alagoas foliage-gleaner, and Hawaiian black-faced honeycreeper have been classified as extinct.

The newly extinct bird species highlight the devastation left behind by the high deforestation rates, particularly in South America.

For the first time, extinctions on the mainland are outpacing those on islands, the study says.

"The last known individual [Spix's macaw] in the wild disappeared in 2001, but searches have been ongoing since then and it is only now that we feel confident enough to classify it as extinct in the wild", co-author of the report, Stuart Butchart said.

"Our evidence shows there is a growing wave of extinction washing over the continents driven by habitat loss from unsustainable agriculture, drainage and logging".

In 2017, tropical forests lost a total of 39 million acres of tree cover, and the Spix's Macaw is one of the many animals that suffered from it.

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