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Blue Bird Hero In 'Rio' Among 8 New Extinct Bird Species

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The Spix's Macaw, the Brazilian blue parrot that inspired the hero of the 2011 animated movie Rio, is one of eight bird species that are now believed to be extinct in the wild.

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

Spix's Macaw Now Extinct, With 8 Others

In Rio, the lead character Blu saved his species by traveling to Brazil to mate with Jewel, the last-known Spix's Macaw in the wild. The family-friendly film saw Blu overcome the odds of surviving in the wild, after being raised as a domesticated bird.

Unfortunately, there is no happy ending for the species in real life, as the Spix's Macaw is one of eight new bird species on the extinct animals list.

An eight-year analysis by conservation group BirdLife International tagged the Spix's Macaw, or Cyanopsitta spixii, as one of the eight new confirmed extinct, or highly likely extinct, bird species. Five of the eight confirmed or suspected bird extinctions were in South America, and four of them were in Brazil.

The Spix's Macaw is now extinct in the wild, with the last one believed to have died in 2000. However, hope remains for the species as there are about 60 to 80 of the birds living in captivity. A sighting in 2016 generated excitement that the blue bird still persisted in the wild, but it is now believed to have been just a Spix's Macaw that escaped from captivity.

The Brazilian cryptic treehunter, Brazilian alagoas foliage-gleaner, and Hawaiian black-faced honeycreeper have been classified as extinct. Meanwhile, the New Caledonian Lorikeet, Javan Lapwing, Pernambuco Pygmy-owl, and Brazilian Glaucous Macaw have been tagged as critically endangered and possibly extinct, with further efforts needed to confirm if they have already died out.

Alarming Extinction Rates

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

The BirdLife International study, however, also pointed out an alarming trend of mainland extinctions outpacing island extinctions.

"Ninety per cent of bird extinctions in recent centuries have been of species on islands," said lead author and BirdLife chief scientist Stuart Butchart in a statement. "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."

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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