RIO DE JANEIRO -- The list of Amazon bird species facing danger of extinction has risen sharply because their rain forest habitat is being slashed to make room for cattle ranching and agriculture, a conservationist group said yesterday.

BirdLife International said that globally 1,331 types of birds, or 13 percent of the world's 10,064 total bird species, were listed as at risk on this year's Red List of Threatened Species issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. That's up from the 1,253 species classified as threatened on last year's list.

The biggest jump came in the Amazon, where 100 avian species are on the Red List, three of them in the highest-risk, "critically endangered" category. Only 10 were listed last year. New models of future deforestation, which predicted accelerating destruction over the coming decade, account for the sudden jump.

"We have previously underestimated the risk of extinction that many of Amazonia's bird species are facing," said Leon Bennun, BirdLife's director of science. BirdLife is an umbrella group representing conservationists around the globe.

"Given the weakening of Brazilian forest law, the situation might be even worse than recent studies have predicted," he said, referring to Brazil's new Forest Code, which loosens protections on the Amazon and is expected to take effect in the coming months.

The Rio Branco antbird was catapulted to the "critically endangered" category from "near threatened" in 2011. The antbird's relatively long, 10- to 12-year life-span makes it difficult for the little black bird with delicate white markings on its wings to adapt to habitat destruction, said BirdLife spokesman Martin Fowlie.

The hoary-throated spinetail joined the critically endangered list because of its limited habitat range. A tiny, rusty orange bird with a brown-and-white spotted throat, it lives exclusively in pockets of forest on the northern edge of the Amazon near the border with Guyana. -- AP

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