Rare Songbird First Identified in Charleston Declared Extinct

·2 min read

Last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced 22 animals and one plant should be declared extinct and removed from the endangered species list.

Among the species is the exceptionally rare Bachman's warbler, a small, yellow-breasted songbird that once migrated between the swampy forests of the Southeastern U.S. and Cuba.

First identified in Charleston in the 1830s, the last confirmed sighting of the Bachman's warbler anywhere in the U.S. was in Louisiana in 1988. As Mongabay puts it, with the USFWS announcement the bird has gone from "being the rarest songbird in the United States to being a non-existent one."

In fact, according to The Post & Courier, one of the last people believed to have seen the warbler was a Charleston doctor who died last year.

"It's one of those ones (species) that we don't know a ton about because the data that exist are from quite a while ago," Matt Johnson, director of the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest in Harleyville, South Carolina, told The Post & Courier.

Bachman's warbler was one of the smallest warblers, averaging about 10 to 11 centimeters long. Outside of their migration habits, not much is known about the behavior of the mysterious bird.

USFWS credits the loss of mature forest habitat as the primary reasons for the bird's extinction.

The ivory-billed woodpecker, which was once found in the bayous of Arkansas, suffered the same fate. It was also declared extinct along with the Bachman's warbler.

"Each of these 23 species represents a permanent loss to our nation's natural heritage and to global biodiversity," Bridget Fahey, who oversees species classification for the Fish and Wildlife Service, told The New York Times. "And it's a sobering reminder that extinction is a consequence of human-caused environmental change."

Sobering indeed.

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