Bringing a Bird Back from the Brink
The Tuamotu Kingfisher is a Pacific island bird with a cream-colored head, blue and green feathers, and a white underbelly. It sings with its mate. Males, during courtship, bring lizards to their girlfriends, banging the reptiles against trees in shows of affection.
This kingfisher is one of the world's most endangered species. A 2008 census revealed only one population with approximately 125 individuals alive – down from approximately 500 birds in 1974. At one time, only 39 birds could be located.
A University of Missouri researcher is trying to stop the birds' extinction by studying the causes of its decline, working with farmers to create a hospitable habitat, teaching kids to appreciate the birds' part of the ecosystem, and by relocating some birds to a second island home.
"If we lose these birds, we lose 50,000 years of uniqueness and evolution" said Dylan Kesler, assistant professor in fisheries and wildlife at MU's School of Natural Resources in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. "Because it has lived in isolation for a very long time, it's unlike any other bird. There is no other bird like this on the planet."