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Somebody told me that there are 9,721 species of bird around the world. Is it true?

Sent in by Anita Lopez, Australia

It can be difficult to put a precise figure on the number of birds species in the world. BirdLife International state that there are 9,865 bird species in the World. The number can change regularly due to species being 'split'.

For example, the Scottish crossbill has recently been split as a separate species from common crossbill. Willow and marsh tits were also once thought to be the same species. There is still some debate about certain species' status.

Some of the birds in this total could be extinct. The ivory billed woodpecker, native to North America, could possibly be extinct but there is still hope of finding one. It is unusual for new species of birds to be found now, but this is always a possibility.

South America is the continent with the most bird species. The current British bird list is 588 species. This includes the common species to those which have only been recorded in the UK once like tufted puffin.

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