Can You Identify The Rarest Birds In North America?

Listed below are some of the rarest birds that breed in North America.
Many of the rare birds in this list are among some of the the most critically endangered bird species in North America. Not only are these birds a rare find, many of them described below have plummeted from great abundance to the edge of extinction.

Can you identify these birds? Can you figure out by reading the description who these bird are? This blog gives you a chance to test your bird identification skills and learn more about these rare and exquisite birds.

The names of each bird are at the bottom of this page. Good Luck!


1. This large, crested woodpecker was thought to be extinct after it was last seen in Cuba in 1987. This woodpecker was so rare, it hadn't been spotted in the United States from 1944 in north-eastern Louisiana. to when it was rediscovered in 2004, flying in the Big Woods region of eastern Arkansas. It's still not known how many of the elusive birds remain; there may only be one.


2. Due to habitat destruction, poaching and poisoning from lead and DDT, the population of these large majestic birds plummeted during the 20th century to as low as 22 birds in the world, all in California. This large bird became extinct in the wild in 1987 when the last six were captured. A massive conservation effort that included capturing all remaining birds and starting a captive breeding program has helped to bring their population back up to over 400, with around 234 birds living in the wild.


3. Despite extensive habitat restoration, these small birds are declining at a rapid rate. And unless conservationist can figure out how to fix this, this bird will almost surely be gone in the next few years. This species had around 2,000 individuals left in 2008, and now there are somewhere around 200 and declining. Conservationists are working hard with a captive breeding program, but it will take a lot of effort and and some luck to bring this species back from the near brink of extinction.


4. This chicken-sized ground bird is a beautiful bird, even if few of us ever see one in the wild. They depend on sagebrush habitat for cover throughout the year and feeds on sagebrush, plants and insects. Once native to New Mexico, northeastern Arizona, Colorado, and Utah, the population of this species has declined precipitously as habitat has been lost and degraded due to development, extraction activities, and agriculture. Today, fewer than 5,000 of these birds remain in the wild, and they are rapidly dwindling.

5. This gorgeous goose species is the official state bird of Hawaii. Found on the Hawaiian islands of Maui, Molokai, Hawaii and Kauai, this is the world's rarest goose. Human encroachment caused a population to plummet to the point that the species was declared endangered in 1967 with only about 30 birds left. Conservation efforts including captive breeding stabilized the population and began to rebuild the species' numbers. Today there are more than 800 living in the wild and more than 1,000 in zoos and collections around the world.


6. Prior to 1870, there were about 1,400 of this lanky bird species in North America. But unfortunately, their population declined to as low as 15 individuals in 1941. Breeding in captivity and releases into the wild have built up flocks. These efforts that go in to bringing numbers back up and teaching the birds to migrate and raise chicks in the wild is truly amazing. It's estimated there are only about 380 of these birds in the wild.


7. This beautiful bird is very particular about where it lives. It can be found in the jack pine forests of the northern lower peninsula of Michigan, but unfortunately those jack pines and the fires that keep the forests healthy are the main reason for this bird's endangered status. With the conservation efforts working, this species might soon be delisted as endangered, though the population estimate puts the species at only around 3,500 individuals.


8. This interesting seabird species nests primarily off the coast of California on small islands. They are nocturnal, feeding on squid, fish and krill that congregate at the ocean's surface at night. There is roughly an estimated 10,000 of these birds left in the world, with the population declining due to issues such as introduced predators, pollution and illumination from fishing boats. Without disturbance, these birds can live to be over 30 years old. However, this species of bird faces even more challenges in the future, including changes in prey availability, nesting sites and the effects global warming has on the ocean.


9. This adorable little shorebird is found on the east coast and in the mid-west. This species has experienced a dramatic decline during the 19th and early 20th centuries after being hunted for its feathers which were used in women's hats. Today, the endangered species has only around 6,510 individuals, but those remaining are here thanks to conservation efforts that began decades ago and population numbers have been increasing since 1991. Critical nesting habitats are now protected in many states where the birds breed and feed, with some beaches entirely off-limits during critical times in the nesting season. This species is a small shorebird that nests on beaches and along the Atlantic coast, the Great lakes, and large rivers and lakes in the Great Plains on the United States and Canada. This species of bird is listed by both the U.S. and Canada and considered extremely endangered.


10. An inquisitive and intelligent bird species that is extremely tame around people. They willingly take food from human hands, but unfortunately, this tameness is dangerous to the well-being of this species. There are fewer than 6,000 individuals left and has been a distinct species in Florida for at least 2 million years, and is the only species of bird endemic to the state. Not only does the species face dwindling scrub habitat, but they also are victims of human kindness. Development in the state has fragmented much of the birds habitat. The oak scrub tends to become overgrown and evolve into sand pine forest or oak hummocks, neither of which is suitable habitat for the bird. Extremely vulnerable, this species faces possible extinction.




1. Ivory-billed Woodpecker
2. California Condor
3. Florida Grasshopper Sparrow
4. The Gunnison Sage-Grouse
5. Nene
6. Whooping Crane
7. Kirtland's Warbler
8. Ashy Storm Petrel
9. The Piping Plover
10. The Florida Scrub-Jay

References and information credits:

TreehuggerNational Audubon SocietyCurrent Results


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