Public Advisory

Public Hearing for Proposal to Designate Critical Habitat for Western Yellow-Billed Cuckoo to be Held in Sacramento CA December 18, 2014

December 01, 2014

Media Contact:
Robert Moler, (916)414-6606, robert_moler@fws.gov (California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas)
Brent Lawrence, (503)807-4886, brent_lawrence@fws.gov (Washington, Idaho, and Oregon)
Steve Segin, (303)236-4578, robert_segin@fws.gov (Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado)

Sacramento – Thursday, December 18, 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will hold a public hearing on the proposal to designate critical habitat for the western distinct population segment of the yellow-billed cuckoo (western yellow-billed cuckoo).

The public hearing will be held at the DoubleTree Inn; 2001 Point West Way; Sacramento, CA 95815 from 2 – 4 p.m. with doors opening at 1:30 p.m. for those wishing to register to speak at the hearing. At the public hearing, the Service will provide opening statements for 20 minutes that will be followed by a 90-minute opportunity for the public to provide verbal comments. The Service will end the hearing session with a few minutes of closing statements.

On August 15, 2014, the Service proposed to designate critical habitat for the western yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) in 80 separate units in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wyoming. At that time, the Service opened an initial 60-day comment period that closed October 14, 2014. The Service reopened the public comment period November 12, 2014, for an additional 60 days that will close January 12, 2015.

Written and verbal testimony on the critical habitat proposal will be accepted at the public hearing. Written comments can also be submitted online at the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. The docket number for the proposed rule is FWS–R8–ES–2013–0011. Comments can also be sent by U.S. Mail or hand delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–ES–R8–2013–0011; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Headquarters, MS: BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

The Service is seeking information concerning the habitat needs of the western yellow-billed cuckoo and information on the areas identified as proposed critical habitat for the species. The Service is also seeking information on the incremental economic effects of the proposed critical habitat and information on any potential exclusions from the final designation. To access the proposed critical habitat rule, detailed maps of the proposed critical habitat units, and a specific outline of information requested by the Service, please go to our Public Advisory page.

The Service will review all public comments received during the public comment periods and the public hearing and will consider peer reviews of the proposal from independent experts before making a final decision. The Service listed the western yellow-billed cuckoo as a threatened species on October 3, 2014, and the rule went into effect on November 3, 2014. A final rule to designate critical habitat is expected in 2015.

People needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and participate in the public hearings should contact Robert Moler, External Affairs Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, as soon as possible by calling 916-414-6606.


Service Reopens Public Comment Period for Proposal to Designate Critical Habitat for Western Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

Comments Accepted through January 12, 2015

November 10, 2014

Sacramento – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is reopening the public comment period for 60 days for the proposal to designate 546,335 acres of critical habitat for the western distinct population segment of the yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) in 80 separate units in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

On August 14, 2014, the Service announced an initial 60-day comment period on the proposal that closed October 14, 2014. The Service is reopening the public comment period for an additional 60 days to ensure the public has adequate opportunity to submit comments and to ensure that any final decision reflects all of the best science and information available. The Service is also planning to hold a public hearing on the proposal and will announce the date and location when it is finalized.

The Service is seeking information concerning the western yellow-billed cuckoo’s biology and habitat, principal habitat elements and biological features of critical habitat, selection criteria for critical habitat units, and justification for exclusions from critical habitat. The Service also seeks information on the incremental economic effects of the proposed critical habitat designation.

Comments on the proposed critical habitat rule will be accepted through January 12, 2015. Comments may be submitted online at the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. The docket number for the proposed rule is FWS–R8–ES–2013-0011. Comments can also be sent by U.S. Mail or Hand Delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–ES–R8–2013–0011; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Headquarters, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

Members of the public who have already submitted comments during the first 60-day comment period do not need to resubmit their comments. Comments and information provided online or by mail to the Service during the first 60-day comment period are still valid.

The Service listed the western yellow-billed cuckoo as a threatened species on October 3, 2014 and the rule went into effect on November 3, 2014. A final rule to designate critical habitat is expected in 2015.


Service to Re-open Public Comment Period for the Western Yellow-Billed Cuckoo Critical Habitat Proposal

October 14, 2014

Sacramento – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today it will re-open the public comment period on its proposal to designate 546,335 acres of critical habitat for the western population of yellow-billed cuckoo in 80 separate units in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

On Aug. 14, 2014, the Service announced a 60-day comment period on the proposal, which closes Oct. 14, 2014. Service decided to re-open the comment period for an additional 60 days after receiving requests from members of Congress in the affected states to allow additional time for public review and comment. The Service is now drafting a new notice for publication in the Federal Register with additional information about the proposal and comment period extension. The notice is expected to publish in the coming days. In addition to publication in the Federal Register, the Service will issue a news release announcing the re-opening of the comment period.

Members of the public who have already submitted comments during the first 60-day comment period (Aug. 14 – Oct. 14, 2014) do not need to resubmit their comments. Comments and information provided online or by mail to the Service during the first 60-day comment period are still valid.

On Oct. 3, 2014, the Service published a final rule to list the western population of yellow-billed cuckoo as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.


Western Yellow-Billed Cuckoo Receives Federal Protection under the Endangered Species Act

October 2, 2014

Sacramento – The western population of the yellow-billed cuckoo will be protected as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today. The Service determined that listing a distinct population segment (DPS) of the bird in portions of 12 western states, Canada and Mexico is warranted. In the U.S., the DPS will cover parts of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

The western population of the yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus), an insect-eating bird found in riparian woodland habitats, winters in South America and breeds in western North America. Once abundant in the western United States, populations have declined for several decades, primarily due to the severe loss, degradation and fragmentation of its riparian habitat as a result of conversion to agriculture, dam construction, river flow management and riverbank protection. Overgrazing and invasive exotic plants have also contributed to declines.

"While the major threat to yellow-billed cuckoos has been loss of riverside habitat, we do not anticipate any significant new water-related requirements as a result of this listing decision," said Ren Lohoefener, Director of the Service’s Pacific Southwest Region. "The water resource requirements for riparian habitat are not unique to cuckoos, and in many cases are already being implemented for other species. Riparian restoration efforts go hand-in-hand with good land management, especially management that promotes good livestock grazing practices."

The Service’s final listing rule, which will be published in tomorrow’s Federal Register and become effective November 3, 2014, is based on a thorough review of the best scientific and commercial information available, obtained through exhaustive research, public comments and independent scientific peer reviews.

Next steps include designation of critical habitat for the species and development of a recovery plan. Both steps will be strengthened by participation from other federal and state agencies, tribal entities and the public in the open comment periods.


Service Proposes Designation of Critical Habitat for Western Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

Agency Seeks Public Comments by October 14, 2014

August 14, 2014

Photo of Map

Sacramento, CA – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to designate 546,335 acres of critical habitat for the western distinct population segment (DPS) of the yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) in 80 separate units in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wyoming. The bird is a neotropical migrant that winters in South America and nests along rivers and streams in western North America.

“The designation of critical habitat is an important step in recovering the western yellow-billed cuckoo,” said Jennifer Norris, Field Supervisor for the Service’s Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office. “Critical habitat identifies areas with essential nesting and fledgling sites where conservation actions are needed to protect and recover this imperiled songbird.”

In the proposal, the Service is considering excluding approximately 193,347 acres from the critical habitat designation because of existing conservation plans for those areas that protect the western yellow-billed cuckoo and its habitat. All proposed critical habitat designations on tribal lands are being considered for exclusion.

Critical habitat is a term in the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that identifies geographic areas containing features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species, and which may require special management considerations or protection. Designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge or preserve, and has no impact on private landowners taking actions on their land that do not require federal funding or permits.

On October 3, 2013, the Service proposed to list the western DPS of the yellow-billed cuckoo as a threatened species under the ESA in the western United States, Canada and Mexico. The listing proposal, which is based on the best scientific data available, cites threats from loss of riparian habitat and habitat fragmentation as a result of conversion of land to agriculture, dams and river flow management, bank protection, overgrazing and competition from exotic plants as key factors in the decline of the western yellow-billed cuckoo.

The Service is seeking information concerning the western yellow-billed cuckoo’s biology and habitat, threats to the species and current efforts to protect the bird. The Service also seeks information on the incremental economic effects of the proposed critical habitat designation.

Comments on the proposed critical habitat rule will be accepted through October 14, 2014. Comments may be submitted online at the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. The docket number for the proposed rule is FWS–R8–ES–2013-0011. Comments can also be sent by U.S. Mail or Hand Delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–ES–R8–2013–0011; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Headquarters, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/cno. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel, and download photos from our Flickr page.


Service Reopens Public Comment Period for Proposal to List the Western Yellow-Billed Cuckoo as a Threatened Species

Comments Accepted through April 25, 2014

April 9, 2014

Sacramento, CA – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will reopen the public comment period on April 10, 2014 for 15 days for the proposal to list the western distinct population segment of the yellow-billed cuckoo as a Threatened Species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

On October 3, 2013, the Service proposed to list the western yellow-billed cuckoo in the western United States, Canada, and Mexico. In the U.S., the western yellow-billed cuckoo is known to occur in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.

The Service will accept comments through April 25, 2014 on the proposed rule. Comments may be submitted online at the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov, docket number FWS–R8–ES–2013-0104. Comments can also be sent by U.S. mail to:
Public Comments Processing
Attn: FWS–R8–ES–2013-0104
Division of Policy and Directives Management
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM
Arlington, VA 22203

The Service seeks information regarding any threats to the species and regulations that may address those threats. More information about the proposal and a detailed outline of the information that the Service is specifically seeking can be found on the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office’s website at: http://www.fws.gov/sacramento/outreach/Public-Advisories/WesternYellow-BilledCuckoo/outreach_PA_Western-Yellow-Billed-Cuckoo.htm.

Comments previously submitted during the initial public comment period need not be resubmitted.

The western yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) is a neotropical migrant bird that winters in South America and breeds in western North America. The yellow-billed cuckoo is insectivorous and lives in riparian woodlands.

While the yellow-billed cuckoo is common east of the Continental Divide, biologists estimate that more than 90 percent of the bird's riparian habitat in the West has been lost or degraded. Threats to the western distinct population segment include loss of riparian habitat and habitat fragmentation as a result of conversion to agriculture, dams and river flow management, bank protection, overgrazing, and competition from exotic plants.


Service Reopens Public Comment Period for Proposal to List the Western Yellow-Billed Cuckoo as a Threatened Species

Comments Accepted through February 24, 2014

December 24, 2013

Sacramento, Calif – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is reopening the public comment period for 60 days for the proposal to list the western distinct population segment of the yellow-billed cuckoo as a Threatened Species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

On October 3, 2013, the Service proposed to list the western yellow-billed cuckoo in the western United States, Canada, and Mexico. In the U.S., the western yellow-billed cuckoo is known to occur in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. The initial public comment period for the proposal ended on December 2, 2013.

"We are reopening the public comment period to ensure the public has adequate opportunity to submit comments on this proposal,” said Jennifer Norris, Field Supervisor for the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office. “Public comments help ensure that any final decision made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reflects all of the best science and information available."

The Service will accept comments through February 24, 2014 on the proposed rule. Comments may be submitted online at the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov, docket number FWS–R8–ES–2013-0104. Comments can also be sent by U.S. mail to:
Public Comments Processing
Attn: FWS–R8–ES–2013-0104
Division of Policy and Directives Management
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM
Arlington, VA 22203

The Service seeks information regarding any threats to the species and regulations that may address those threats. More information about the proposal and a detailed outline of the information that the Service is specifically seeking can be found here on our website.

Comments previously submitted during the initial public comment period need not be resubmitted

The western yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) is a neotropical migrant bird that winters in South America and breeds in western North America. The yellow-billed cuckoo is insectivorous and lives in riparian woodlands.

While the yellow-billed cuckoo is common east of the Continental Divide, biologists estimate that more than 90 percent of the bird's riparian habitat in the West has been lost or degraded. Threats to the western distinct population segment include loss of riparian habitat and habitat fragmentation as a result of conversion to agriculture, dams and river flow management, bank protection, overgrazing, and competition from exotic plants.


Western Yellow-Billed Cuckoo Proposed for Federal Protections

Service Seeks Public Comments by December 2, 2013

October 17, 2013

Sacramento-- On October 3, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposed to list the western distinct population segment (DPS) of the yellow-billed cuckoo as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the western United States, Canada, and Mexico. In the U.S., the western yellow-billed cuckoo is known to occur in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.

“The western yellow-billed cuckoo is distinct from populations in the east and has different habitat requirements,” said Jennifer Norris, Field Supervisor for the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Service. “Populations of western yellow-billed cuckoo, and their nesting habitat along rivers and streams, have been declining over the last few decades. The Service is asking the public to review our proposal to list the western yellow-billed cuckoo as a threatened species and submit comments. We need all of the best available scientific information to help us make a final decision that most effectively protects the species.”

The Service is looking for information concerning the western yellow-billed cuckoo’s biology and habitat, threats to the species, and current efforts to protect the bird.

Comments for the proposal to list the western yellow-billed cukoo as a threatened species will be accepted through December 2, 2013. Comments may be submitted online at the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov. The Docket Number for the proposed listing rule is FWS–R8–ES–2013-0104. Comments can also be sent by U.S. mail to:

Public Comments Processing
Attn: FWS–R8–ES–2013-0104
Division of Policy and Directives Management
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM
Arlington, VA 22203

The western yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) is a neotropical migrant bird that winters in South America and breeds in western North America. The yellow-billed cuckoo is an insectivorous bird that lives in riparian woodlands.

While the yellow-billed cuckoo is common east of the Continental Divide, biologists estimate that more than 90 percent of the bird's riparian habitat in the West has been lost or degraded. The listing proposal, which is based on the best scientific data available, cites threats from loss of riparian habitat and habitat fragmentation as a result of conversion to agriculture, dams and river flow management, bank protection, overgrazing, and competition from exotic plants as key facto-rs in the decline of the western yellow-billed cuckoo.

The Service was petitioned to add the western yellow-billed cuckoo to the federal list of threatened or endangered species in 1998. In a review of the status of the species, the Service found that the yellow-billed cuckoo populations west of the Continental Divide in the United States was a DPS and added the species to the candidate list in 2001. The Service’s announcement today officially proposes to list the western yellow-billed cuckoo as a threatened species.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov/cno. Connect with our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfwspacificsouthwest, follow our tweets at twitter.com/USFWSPacSWest, watch our YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at www.flickr.com/photos/usfws_pacificsw


The Western Yellow Billed Cuckoo

Western Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

Photo: Mark Dettling

The yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) is a neotropical migrant bird that winters in South America and breeds in western North America.   Adult yellow-billed cuckoos have moderate to heavy bills, somewhat elongated bodies and a narrow yellow ring of colored bare skin around the eye.  The plumage is loose and grayish-brown above and white below, with reddish primary flight feathers.  The tail feathers are boldly patterned with black and white below.  They are a medium-sized bird about 12 inches in length, and weigh about 2 ounces.  The species has a slender, long-tailed profile, with a fairly stout and slightly down-curved bill, which is blue-black with yellow on the basal half of the lower mandible.  The legs are short and bluish-gray.

The western yellow-billed cuckoo appears to be distinct from other yellow-billed cuckoos based on physical, biological, ecological and behavioral factors.  During breeding season, the western yellow-billed cuckoos are separated from other yellow-billed cuckoo populations.  Western yellow-billed cuckoos prefer isolated wooded riparian corridors surrounded by extensive arid uplands and, the western yellow-billed cuckoos are larger in size, migrate about a month earlier to their breeding grounds, and produce larger eggs with thicker shells.