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LAND BIRDS
Biodiversity > Birds > Land Birds

Extinct birds
When discovered, Lord Howe Island had fifteen species of landbird, of which thirteen were endemic forms. Nine of the original fifteen are now extinct. All these birds had evolved and existed on the Island for many thousands of years without natural predators. But when man came in search of food, and with his domestic animals, they knew no fear and many species were soon exterminated. Two were literally eaten into extinction - the White gallinule (Notornis alba) and the White-throated pigeon (Columba vitensis), while a third, the Red-fronted Parrakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae subflavescens) was eliminated because it was a pest that damaged fruit and grain crops; all three were extinct by the 1860s. A further five forms became extinct within a few years of rats (Rattus rattus) arriving at Lord Howe when the ship Makambo ran aground near Ned's Beach in 1918. The victims were the Vinous-tinted Blackbird (Turdus xanthopus vinitinctus) the Lord Howe Gerygone (Gerygone insularis), the Lord Howe Fantail (Rhipidura cervina), the Robust Silvereye (Zosterops strenua), and the Lord Howe Starling (Aplonis fuscus hullianus). The last bird to disappear from the Island's forests was the Lord Howe Boobook (Ninox novaeseelandiae albaria) last heard in the early 1950s.

Recent arrival landbirds
Since 1920 eleven other species of birds have become established on Lord Howe Island, whether by introduction - the Masked owl, Peewee, Blackbird and Song thrush or by natural colonisation - Buff Banded rail, White-faced heron, Nankeen kestrel , Welcome swallow, European Starling, Purple swamphen and the Masked lapwing. The last two species to colonise the Island arrived in 1985 and 1990. All of these landbirds that have colonised since 1920 probably depend, for their survival, on the modifications to the environment, through clearing of lowland forest for pasture and housing.

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