EDGE Birds represent millions of years of unique evolutionary history. They are not only threatened with extinction, but are also highly unique in the way they look, live and behave. ZSL’s EDGE of Existence programme has launched the top 100 EDGE bird list in the hope of bringing much needed attention to these extraordinary and threatened species. To ensure a future for these remarkable feathered creatures the EDGE programme is developing a project to protect EDGE birds in the Philippines and is looking for new Fellows to champion EDGE bird species.
Below we have highlighted ten of the most unique and threatened EDGE Birds (number indicates EDGE rank):
1. Giant ibis (Thaumatibis gigantea) – occupying the top spot on the EDGE birds list this striking bird is the world’s largest ibis. It is the national bird of Cambodia and, owing to its rarity and exceptional size, holds near-mythical status for bird-watchers, naturalists and conservationists.
4. Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus) – the world’s heaviest parrot, the New Zealand kakapo is also unusual in being nocturnal and flightless. The male kakapo produces a loud ‘boom’ call to attract potential mates which can be heard up to 5 kilometres away.
8. Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) – one of the largest and rarest eagles on the planet, this incredible predator was formerly thought to prey exclusively on monkeys. It is now known to prey on a variety of animals ranging from rodents and bats to pigs and monitor lizards.
11. Spoon-billed sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus) – this small wading bird has a unique spatula-shaped bill. Every year the birds undertake an incredible 8,000 km journey from their breeding grounds in northeast Russia to their main wintering grounds in Bangladesh and Myanmar.
12. Northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita) – once widespread across Northern Africa and Europe, this distinctive, red-faced bird has declined to just 200 breeding wild adults. There are more than 2,000 individuals in captivity, including a population at ZSL London Zoo.
28. Secretarybird (Sagittarius serpentarius) – so-called because it supposedly resembles an old-fashioned secretary carrying quill-pens tucked behind his ears, this unmistakable African bird has an incredible method of stalking its prey, which it often stamps on before swallowing whole.
34. Tooth-billed pigeon (Didunculus strigirostris) – also known as the ‘little dodo’ this archaic, pigeon-like bird is found only on the island of Samoa. With fewer than 250 adults estimated to survive, urgent action is needed to save the species from the fate of its infamous relative, the dodo.
42. Lesser florican (Sypheotides indicus) – this iconic black and white florican is best known for the male’s elaborate aerial courtship displays in which the male leaps vertically in the air in a flurry of wings and legs to attract a mate.
56. Juan Fernandez firecrown (Sephanoides fernandensis) – this beautiful, fiery hummingbird is found on only one island off the coast of Chile. During territorial disputes, the firecrown will hover in front of the intruder and flash its crown of stunning, iridescent plumage.
73. Greater adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius) – this enormous prehistoric-looking stork grows to 1.5 m high with a wingspan of 2.5m. The name ‘adjutant’ actually refers to a military rank – it was given to this bird on account of its stiff, marching walk.