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Apr 12, 2014 09:36 AM EDT

Top 100 Unique and Endangered Birds in the World

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The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Yale University have created a list of the most unique and critically endangered birds in the world.

The Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) list was developed after scoring the world's 10,000 bird species including the ankle-high sandpiper and  the prehistoric looking greater adjutant ( stands as tall as an adult human), according to their uniqueness (in the manner they look, live and behave) and threat levels.

EDGE Birds represent millions of years of unique evolutionary history. The Giant Ibis from Morocco tops the EDGE list as the world's most unique and threatened bird in the world. This unusual bird experienced significant population loss following the introduction of pesticides in the 1950s. Less than 300 adult birds are believed to be remaining in the wild.    

The Philippine eagle ranked eight on the list preys on monkeys and flying lemurs. This striking bird is facing a threat due to deforestation as it requires an area greater than the city of Oxford to raise a single chick.                                                        

The tooth-billed pigeon or 'little dodo' and Secretary bird (looks for prey by stamping around the vegetation) and many other extraordinary birds also feature in the list.

 "Half of the 100 highest ranked EDGE bird species are receiving little or no conservation attention. The release of the EDGE Birds list enables us to prioritise our conservation efforts in the face of a mounting list of endangered species," Carly Waterman, EDGE Programme Manager at ZSL said in a statement.

Here are some interesting facts about the list:

-          About 20 percent of the top 100 EDGE birds belong to the Passeriformes, commonly known as the songbirds.

-          10 of the top 100 species belong to the family Accipitridae, which includes eagles, hawks and kites.

-          The top 100 EDGE birds are spread over 170 countries.

-          The highest number of EDGE birds is in India with 14 species.

 "By identifying these top 100 species, we can now focus our efforts on targeted conservation action and better monitoring to help ensure that they are still here for future generations to come. As we show, conservation priorities can be adjusted to better conserve the avian tree of life and the many important functions it provides," said Lead author Prof Walter Jetz from Yale University and Imperial College London.

The finding is published in Current Biology.

(Photo : Ben Fitzgerald and Dries Nys/ZSL)
Greater Adjutant and Secretary bird.

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