Birds of Conservation Concern
What is the Birds of Conservation Concern List?
The Birds of Conservation Concern 2021 List (BCC 2021) identifies the migratory and non-migratory bird species (beyond those already designated as federally threatened or endangered) that represent our highest conservation priorities. The list is based on an assessment of several factors, including population abundance and trends, threats on breeding and nonbreeding grounds and size of breeding and nonbreeding ranges.
Bird species considered for the BCC include:
- nongame birds
- gamebirds without hunting seasons
- subsistence-hunted nongame birds in Alaska
- ESA candidate, proposed, and recently delisted species
The BCC 2021 covers the United States of America (USA) in its entirety, including island states, commonwealths and territories in the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea and the marine areas delineated as territorial sea, contiguous zone and exclusive economic zone. It encompasses four distinct geographic scales:
- the Continental USA, including Alaska
- Pacific Ocean islands, including Hawaii
- Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Navassa
- continental Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs) and Marine Bird Conservation Regions (MBCRs), as defined by Bird Studies Canada and North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) (2014). New to the BCC 2021 is the explicit inclusion of MBCRs.
Species (Taxa) on the BCC 2021
The BCC 2021 identifies 269 individual bird taxa of conservation concern. Of these:
- 135 taxa are of conservation concern at the Continental scale
- 88 taxa at the BCR scale
- 29 taxa on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
- 35 taxa on Hawaii and the Pacific Islands
Eighteen taxa identified on the Continental/BCR lists are shared with either Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands or Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. The number of taxa on the Hawaii/Pacific Island list appears deceptively low, because a high number of birds there are already listed under the ESA.
The number of taxa listed within a BCR, which includes those identified as conservation concern at the Continental or BCR scales, ranges from 12 taxa in the Arctic Plains and Mountains to 49 taxa in Coastal California, with an average of 25.4 taxa per BCR. Among MBCRs, the number of taxa ranged from two taxa in the Chuckchi and Beaufort Seas to 13 taxa in the California Current, with an average of 7.4 taxa per MBCR.
All major bird groups are represented in the BCC 2021, but shorebirds, seabirds and some landbirds have particularly high representation. Of eligible taxa, 53% of shorebirds and 48% of seabirds met criteria for inclusion in the BCC 2021. Based on habitat designations of landbirds applied to the Continental and BCR scales, a high percentage of taxa inhabiting grasslands (54%) and aridlands (47%) were included in the BCC 2021, as were aerial insectivores (31%).
The 1988 amendment to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act mandates the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to “identify species, subspecies, and populations of all migratory nongame birds that, without additional conservation actions, are likely to become candidates for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973.”