Birds of Conservation Concern 2021

By Julie Hart July 14, 2021
Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon

The US Fish & Wildlife Service released an updated list of Birds of Conservation Concern in June. The list of 269 species includes birds from the United States, its outlying islands, and marine habitats. On the list are 46 species that are of concern during the breeding season in NY.

Some species are expected, like Eastern Whip-poor-will, Red-headed Woodpecker, Golden-winged Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, and Bicknell’s Thrush, but some may come as a surprise to many.

Included on the list are Chimney Swift and Bobolink, both of concern at the continental scale, and Belted Kingfisher, Black-capped Chickadee, Veery, Eastern Meadowlark, Scarlet Tanager, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak at the regional scale.

As pointed out in the Science paper on the Decline of the North American Avifauna that came out in late 2019, grassland birds and aerial insectivores have undergone drastic declines over the last 40 years. Other species on the list tend to be coastal and boreal species, habitats that are also under a variety of threats.

Of the 19 non-breeders on the list that spend part of the year in NY, Red Knot, Short-eared Owl, and Rusty Blackbird are well-known species in decline, but some shorebirds may seem unexpected, such as Ruddy Turnstone, Dunlin, Semipalmated Sandpiper, and Lesser Yellowlegs.

Large-scale projects like Breeding Bird Atlases, the USGS Breeding Bird Survey, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, and eBird make it possible to assess the status of species. It may be disheartening to see so many of our beloved species show up on this list, but knowing that these species are threatened is the first step to conserving them.

Get the full report and list of species

Download an amended version of the species list with NY status (Bird Conservation Regions 13, 14, 28, 30, and M18 cover parts of NY)