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Whistlers: Pachycephalidae - Conservation Status

poison birds extinction sangihe

The piopio is Extinct, or died out. The Sangihe shrike-thrush is Critically Endangered, facing an extremely high risk of extinction, due to loss of its forest habitat on the tiny Indonesian island of Sangihe.

The yellowhead is Vulnerable, facing a high risk of extinction, because its population in New Zealand has been preyed upon by stoats (ermines) that were introduced into the birds' territory. Stoats have eaten not only eggs and newly-hatched birds, but adult females as well.


In 1989, biologist Jack Dumbacher recorded the first instance of natural toxicity, or poison, in a bird. The bright orange-and-black hooded pitohui and four others in this genus (JEE-nus), group of related birds, have a neurotoxin, or poison that affects the nerves, in their skin, feathers, and flesh. This neurotoxin produces numbness when touched and is the same poison found in the poison dart frogs of Central and South America. Scientists have not been able to figure out how the birds, or the frogs, make the poison, or how these animals are able to survive with the poison in their systems.

The red-lored whistler of Australia, the white-bellied pitohui of New Guinea, and the Tongan whistler are Near Threatened, in danger of becoming threatened with extinction, due to habitat loss and foreign animals that were introduced into whistler territory.

Whistlers: Pachycephalidae - Golden Whistler (pachycephala Pectoralis): Species Accounts [next] [back] Whistlers: Pachycephalidae - Behavior And Reproduction

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