There is no shortage of extinct birds, but many are awe-inspiring or downright strange. Not only are some of these birds flightless, but some are closely related to birds still living on planet Earth today.
Many extinct birds are famous, like the Dodo Bird or the Laughing Owl. However, dozens of other stunning and unexpected birds have gone extinct.
Read on to learn which birds are extinct and how their species died.
What Is the Most Popular Extinct Bird?
The Dodo bird is the most popular extinct bird. This bird is often referenced in pop-culture media, movies, and music, boosting its popularity even more.
How Many Extinct Birds Are There?
Almost 150 species of birds have gone extinct since the 1500s alone. However, many more species had gone extinct the centuries before scientists kept track of the extinct birds.
Who Killed the Last Dodo Bird?
No one person is responsible for the last Dodo bird dying, but the bird’s remains show a gunshot wound.
How Many Birds Go Extinct Each Year?
At least one species of bird are at risk for extinction every year. However, many of these birds receive aid from conservation groups dedicated to keeping bird species alive. The last bird to have gone extinct was the Teeny Po’ouli, the last of which died in 2004.
17 Incredible Extinct Birds
These extinct birds are not only some of the most famous but also some of the most awe-inspiring extinct birds. These birds are famous for their size, stature, and genetic makeup.
1. Dodo Bird
Scientific name: Raphus cucullatus
Length: 3 ft 3 in
Weight: 29 – 51 pounds
Wingspan: 2 ft
The Dodo was a flightless bird that went extinct in 1662. This bird had a hooked beak to catch food with and lived in a flock with other Dodos. Dodo birds were hunted by humans, dogs, and cats and preferred tropical rainforest climates.
2. Tasmaniam Emu
Scientific name: Dromaius novaehollandiae diemenensis
Length: 6 ft 2 in
Weight: 40 – 132 pounds
The Tasmanian Emu was a flightless bird that went extinct around 1865. This bird lived in Tasmania, an island south of Australia’s mainland. Scientists are unclear about what caused the Tasmanian Emu to go extinct, but it’s thought that overhunting by European colonizers caused the issue.
3. Great Auk
Scientific name: Pinguinus impennis
Length: 30 in
Weight: 11 pounds
Wingspan: 6 in
The Great Auk was a flightless bird who stuck close to the sea and went extinct in 1844. These birds stood up tall, like modern Penguins. Great Auks went extinct due to hunting. These hunters used Great Auks as food sources and bait for other animals.
4. Arabian Ostrich
Scientific name: Struthio camelus syriacus
Length: 9 ft
Weight: 340 pounds
Wingspan: 6 ft 6 in
The Arabian Ostrich was classified as extinct in 1996 but lived in the Arabian Peninsula before it died. This bird was flightless and huge and is thought to have been around during prehistoric times. This bird was hunted to extinction by humans using cars and firearms.
5. Eskimo Curlew
Scientific name: Numenius borealis
Length: 14 in
Weight: less than 1 pound
Wingspan: 27 in
The Eskimo Curlew suffered from habitat loss and overhunting, which drove the species into extinction. Before extinction, the Eskimo Curlew lived in the Mediterranean, with the last spotting being in 1987 before it was confirmed as an extinct species.
6. Canarian Oystercatcher
Scientific name: Haematopus meadewaldoi
Length: 16.5 in
Weight: 1.3 – 1.7 pounds
Wingspan: 33 in
Canarian Oystercatchers have been classified as extinct since the 1940s, but many reported sightings are as late as the 1960s. However, there has been no evidence to support the existence of this species since the 1980s.
7. Elephant Bird
Scientific name: Aepyornithidae
Length: 10 ft
Weight: 1,400 pounds
Wingspan: 13 ft
Many factors contributed to the extinction of the Elephant Bird, including climate change, hunting by humankind, and the loss of habitat from the forest they lived. Although this bird looked similar to an ostrich, they are only distant cousins instead of a close relative.
8. Spectacled Cormorant
Scientific name: Phalacrocorax perspicillatus
Length: 39 in
Weight: 15 pounds
Wingspan: 5 ft
The Spectacled Cormorant is an extinct seabird that lived in northeast Russia. Fossil records have proven this seabird existed 120,000 years ago, but the species has been extinct since about 1850. The Spectacled Cormorant was captured by humans as a food source and used for feathers.
9. Hawaii Mamo
Scientific name: Drepanis pacifica
Length: 8 in
The Hawaii Mamo went extinct around 1898 after their habitat was lost. Mosquitos, other predators, and overhunting also contributed to the extinction of this bird.
10. Kangaroo Island Emu
Scientific name: Dromaius novaehollandiae baudinianus
Length: 5 ft
Weight: 100 pounds
Unlike other extinct birds, the Kangaroo Island Emu went extinct due to burning bushfires in the area. Settlers set much of the area alight to make room for pastures. Some hunters also used this bird for food.
11. Laughing Owl
Scientific name: Sceloglaux albifacies
Length: 15 in
Weight: 1.3 pounds
Wingspan: 10 in
Laughing Owls went extinct in the 20th century, the last Laughing Owl being spotted in 1914. This bird got its name from the way it sounds as it calls out to others.
12. Giant Moa
Scientific name: Dinornis robustus
Length: 10 ft
Weight: 550 pounds
Giant Moa lived in the forest, where they would fight eagles. The Giant Moa was driven to extinction after Polynesian settlers hunted them and destroyed their habitat. These birds were extinct by 1445.
13. New Zealand Quail
Scientific name: Coturnix novaexelandiae
Length: 8.7 in
Weight: 7.8 oz
Wingspan: 4 in
The New Zealand Quail was once abundant in the continent but became extinct in 1875 when deforestation meant habitat loss for the species. These birds were also hunted by dogs, rats, and cats.
14. Laysan Rail
Scientific name: Pozana palmeri
Length: 5 in
Wingspan: 2 in
The Laysan Rail is thought to have become extinct in 1923 because of habitat loss after rats were released in the area. The last Laysan Rail was spotted in 1944.
15. Ivory-Billed Woodpecker
Scientific name: Campephilus principalis
Length: 21 in
Weight: 1.3 pounds
Wingspan: 31.5 in
Although it has not been verified, most scientists consider the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker to be extinct. These birds suffered from habitat destruction, especially since they relied on very specific foliage for nesting.
16. Mysterious Starling
Scientific name: Aplonis mavornata
Length: 7.5 in
Weight: 3.6 oz
Wingspan: 12 in
The Mysterious Starling was also referred to as the Mauke Starling but went extinct sometime between 1825 and 1973. The only spotted member of the species was noted in 1825, but bird enthusiasts didn’t come back for more than 100 years after the bird had already gone extinct.
17. Labrador Duck
Scientific name: Camptorhynchus labradorius
Length: 25 in
Weight: 2 pounds
Wingspan: 17 in
The Labrador Duck only went extinct after its food sources began to dwindle. These birds preferred to eat shellfish and crustaceans, but as humankind began to eat more of these creatures, the Labrador Duck had less to eat. The last Labrador Duck suffered a gunshot wound by a hunter in 1878.
Whether you simply want to know which birds are extinct or you want to ogle at old drawings of birds who are long gone, this list can help you understand more about the world before us.