I Know Why the Caged Songbird Goes Extinct
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM John R. Platt, TheRevelator.org
March 2021

The paper calls this an “extinction-in-process” and warns that any remaining birds left in captivity may die without producing offspring. Even if they do manage to breed, the researchers fear they could be hybridized with other similar-in-appearance mynas, obscuring their genetic lineage.

wild caught Songbrids
Cages line the Malang bird and animal market on Java in 2016, Photo: Andrea Kirkby (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The straw-headed bulbul doesn’t look like much.

It’s less than a foot in length, with subdued brown-and-gold plumage, a black beak and beady red eyes. If you saw one sitting on a branch in front of you, you might not give it a second glance.

But this Southeast Asian native stands out in one notable way: It sings like an angel.

“It’s arguably the most beautiful song of any bird,” says Chris Shepherd, executive director of Monitor Conservation Research Society and an expert on Asian songbirds. “It’s amazing,” he adds.

The bird’s beautiful voice serves a vital ecological purpose: Males use it to attract mates. The better the song, the greater the chance of finding a female and propagating the species.

But the song has also come with a terrible modern cost. Humans have come to value the bulbul’s calls so much that they’ve collected the birds from almost every inch of their habitat. Captured birds, quickly caged, have been shipped to markets throughout Southeast Asia. Due to this overwhelming commercial demand, the species has disappeared from most of its range and is now critically endangered. Only a few pocket populations continue to hang on.

And the straw-headed bulbul is far from alone in this decline. Practically every songbird species in Southeast Asia faces a similar predicament. Many birds face the very real risk of imminent extinction, leaving some forests in the region eerily silent.

Recent research finds that several songbirds have become perilously close to vanishing — if they haven’t been lost already.

 

Please read the ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE (PDF).


Return to Animal Rights Articles