According to the Red List of Threatened Species prepared by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, more bird species than ever are threatened with extinction. Research conducted by BirdLife International for the IUCN, found 1,227 species (12 percent) are classified as globally threatened with extinction. The Red List now lists 192 species of bird as Critically Endangered, the highest threat category, a total of two more than in the 2008 update.

Some examples.

The Gorgeted Puffleg (Eriocnemis isabellae), a recently discovered iridescent hummingbird that clings to a tiny piece of cloud forest in the Pinche mountain range in south-west Colombia.

Gorgeted Puffleg (photo: Alex Cortes)

The Sidamo (Liben) Lark (Heteromirafra sidamoensis), from the Liben Plain of Ethiopia, has been recently moved from Endangered to Critically Endangered with the distinct possibility the species will become extinct in the next two to three years, becoming mainland Africa’s first bird extinction. The bird’s plight is due to the disappearance of the savannah of native grasses that traditionally covered large parts of east Africa, leaving it marooned on a tiny island of rangeland. The lark’s total population is now believed to number fewer than 250 mature individuals.

Sidamo Lark (photo: Paul F. Donald)

The Medium Tree-finch (Camarhynchus pauper), one of Charles Darwin’s famed finches from the Galapagos Islands. Dispiritingly, the bird’s critically endangered designation coincides with the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth.

Medium Tree Finch (photo: Laura L. Fellows)

The species is only found on Floreana Island at elevations above 250m in moist highland forest habitat.

The decline in the bird’s population is believed the result of an introduced parasitic fly.

A few bright spots exist.

Lear’s Macaw (photo: Andy and Gill Swash

Lear’s Macaw (Anodorhynchus leari) has been moved from Critically Endangered to Endangered. Named after the English poet, this spectacular blue parrot has increased four-fold in numbers as a result of a joint effort of many national and international non-governmental organizations, the Brazilian government and local landowners.

Chatham Petrel (photo: Don Merton)

In New Zealand, the Chatham Petrel (Pterodroma axillaris) has benefited from work by the New Zealand Department of Conservation and has consequently been moved from Critically Endangered to Endangered.

Mauritius Fody (photo: Nick Garbutt)

In Mauritius, the stunning Mauritius Fody (Foudia rubra) has been rescued from the brink of extinction after the translocation and establishment of a new population on a predator-free offshore island. It is now classified as Endangered, rather than Critically Endangered.