Last Heath Hen is Dead and Race is Now Extinct, Expert Observers Agree

Somewhere on the great plain of Martha’s Vineyard death and the heath hen have met. One day, just as usual, there was a bird called the heath hen, and the next day there was none. How he came to his end no human being can know. But the death of wild birds is a violent death. The eye becomes dimmed, the beat of the wings lags ever so little, the star of fortune blinds for a fraction of a second it is enough. An enemy strikes and death has come.

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Heath Hen Tops De-Extinction List
An effort to bring the heath hen back into existence is now the leading de-extinction project in the world, putting the Vineyard at the forefront of new technology in wildlife conservation.
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Heath Hen as Gateway Bird for De-extinction Inches Closer to Reality
The first phase of a ground-breaking project to bring the heath hen back from extinction has been successfully completed, scientists said this week. The path to bringing back the bird is getting more tangible, and scientists say the heath hen could be “the gateway bird” for avian de-extinction.
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Heath Hen Project Advances Quickly

A complex and groundbreaking project that aims to bring back the heath hen is advancing “at lightning speed,” scientists said this week.

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Heath Hen Debate Contains Vineyard DNA

Bringing back an extinct species raises a whirlwind of questions — technical, ethical and financial. Would it be possible? Should it be done?

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Historic Film Shows Heath Hens Alive and Dancing on Vineyard
The last heath hen disappeared from Martha's Vineyard in 1932 and the species declared extinct in 1933.
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Once Flourishing Heath Hen Made Its Last Stand on Island
The heath hen’s story of decline and extinction has become inextricably linked to Martha’s Vineyard.
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Heath Hen Raises Bar on De-Extinction Debate
The heath hen is at the center of a new effort and a new debate on the Island, as scientific advances have made de-extinction a possibility.
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Never Say Never; Heath Hen May Get Its Boom Back
The heath hen is currently being proposed as a possibility for de-extinction by an organization that aims to coordinate projects that use genetics to rescue endangered and extinct species.
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New Research: Island's Extinct Heath Hen Was a Unique Bird
Now a genetic study of the skins of scores of heath hens, all of them from the Vineyard, shows that the Island bird, although it looked and behaved much like its supposed parent species in the Midwest, was a wholly distinctive creature. Genetically it was more different from the greater western prairie chicken - that supposed parent species - than the Midwestern bird is from any other family member in its genus, which includes the lesser prairie chicken, the endangered Attwater's prairie chicken of eastern Texas, and even the sharp-tailed grouse. It is possible that instead of being a subspecies of the prairie chicken - which scientists have considered it to be since it was first typed in the last years of the nineteenth century - the heath hen might have been a species unto itself.
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