Songs for Species: Celebrating 50 years of the Endangered Species Act through music

Written By

In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act in 2023, we are proud to bring you the Songs for Species playlist -- a mix of original songs written, performed, recorded, and donated by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service employees. This playlist features music created in 2023 for the ESA 50th celebration, as well as a selection of songs taken from the 2003 Songs of the System Refuge Centennial celebration music CD. All of these songs have an at-risk, threatened, endangered species and conservation-themed message. Our original U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service music is intended to be used as a way of connecting people to nature and the mission of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Enjoy!

Credits and lyrics


Music by Mason Wheatley

Wild Alaska

Words by Karen and Michael Boylan

Music by Karen Boylan

Published by Flying Jib Music

Karen Boylan, vocals, guitar

It’s a wild, wild country, my Alaska,

She’s a cold beauty when it’s forty below.

We got bears on Kodiak and moose on the Kenai,

We got mountain magic with the moon on the snow.

There are great lands in the Great Land

Where you scarce hear human sound,

Where musk ox, wolves, and caribou

Moose and bear abound.

Yukon Delta, Tetlin, Koyukuk and more,

Wild and free, a legacy for rich or poor.

Springtime, shaky calf is born, 

His mother standing guard.

In three days, with legs so strong

He’s running with the herd.

Late August, a man is mauled, 

While sleeping in his tent.

Grizzly landlord, in search of fish,

Dropped by to get his rent.

October the rut is on, bulls fighting in the dawn.

Ancient dance from long ago keeps new life moving on.

Aleutians, a lonely perch, a falcon scans for food,

A stoop, a strike, a puffin’s gone, to feed her hungry brood.

Piping Plover

Words by Greg Thompson

Music by Greg Thompson, Bill Jaaskelainen, Bill Zinni

Greg Thompson, vocals, mandolin, flute & tin whistle

Bill Jaaskelainen, acoustic guitar

Bill Zinni, vocals, bass guitar, mandolin

Kurt Snider, drums, percussion

Ocean and Gull sounds recorded at Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR

Recorded at Studio 2000 at the Omnixplex, Camden, NJ

Produced and endgineered by Danny McKeown & Paul Piccari, mastered by Paul Piccari.

Been coming to this beach

Since I was a child

But I’m the daddy now

Watching the kids run wild

It used to be a quiet spot

With plenty of room to roam

Zigging back & forth

In and out the foam

But now it’s a different place

With so many on the shore

With houses and tourists

And all those 4X4’s

So move the beach towels over

For the piping plover

Look out in your land rover

For the piping plover

Turn the guitars over

For the piping plover

Some say plover, some say plover

Of this bird, I am a lover

Some say plover, some say plover

Let’s make sure it’s not over

For the piping plover

Gathering Waters

Music by Sean Killen

Sean Killen, classical guitar, fretless bass

Recorded at, Lakeland, MN
Engineered & mixed by Tyler Joseph

Disappearing Eider Blues

Words and music by William Larned

William Larned, vocals, acoustic guitar

Recorded at Gamble Recording, Soldotna, AK

Have you heard about our awful luck

The sad, sad tale of the eider ducks

Have you read about it, people have you heard the news?

This is a song about you and me

‘bout the diving ducks of the northern sea

We just call it the “disappearing eider blues”

Now folks are askin’, “what’s the fuss?”

But that’s cause they’ve never really studied us

Maybe that’s cause we’re not so good to eat

But the counts all say we’re losing ground

By the pair and by the pound

Something happened to put us in retreat

Now eiders are a breed apart

We’re cold of food but warm of heart

Riding out the winter on the icy stormy seas

We come in every size and hue

Our lives we’d like to share with you

We’ll introduce ourselves, if you please


I’m a spectacled eider, dig my safety glasses

We winter in the ocean in humongous masses

Diving deep in the northern Bering Sea

Our population took a downward turn

On the Yukon Delta, which caused concern

Now everybody’s busy protectin’ me


Steller’s eider, that’s my name

Invertebrate hunting is my game

Specially in lagoons and shallow bays

On Alaska coasts we used to breed

But there we now are rare indeed

We raise our young in Russia nowadays


They call me “king” with very good reason

My head looks so cool in the nesting season

The high arctic coast is where I do my thing

Our migration’s wondrous to behold

Countless chains of living gold

The spirit o the Arctic on the wing


I’m the common eider, but let me make it clear

I’m the biggest duck in the hemisphere

Our down has warmed you folks since time began

We nest near the ocean in great big groups

Raise our young together like army troops

Then head offshore to molt with our whole clan

We eat clams, mussels, krill and crabs

But our future’s really up for grabs

Time’s getting short for help to come our way

Our prey’s declining and so are we

It’s lead cuisine in the deep blue sea

No more smorgasbord of bygone days

Our numbers reflect the health of the ocean

Without us you would have no notion

Indicator ducks, just watch us and you’ll see

We too have a right to exist

If we were gone we’d sure be missed

We’re all part of the master strategy

This world’s a great place to be alive

Keep our oceans healthy and we’ll survive

We all can win, none of us has to lose

So maybe on some future day

We won’t feel the need to play

Our sad song, the disappearing eider blues

Our sad song, the disappearing eider blues


Music by Liz Dawson

Liz Dawson, Piano

Recorded at Studio 2000 at the Omniplex, Camden, NJ

Produced and engineered by Danny McKeown & Paul Piccari, mastered by Paul Piccari.

I'm a Fish

Joe McCauley-lyrics & vocals

Greg Thompson - Electric guitar

Bill Zinni-Bass guitar

Bill Jaaskelainen-Acoustic guitar

Kurt Snider-Drums

Al Averill from NRCS-Harmonica 

When I was a young fish  

Just a little Fry 

I knew by the way I was growing 

I’d be the greatest fish alive 

Now I’m grown 

And swimming upstream 

All these dams in my way  

Are making me kinda mean 

Cause, I’m a Fish! 

Gonna spawn till I die 

I’m a Fish! 

I need free flowing water to survive 

Now it wasn’t that long ago 

That Atlantic salmon did abound 

But now I look around me 

There ain’t many of us left around 

Without no decent habitat 

It’s mighty tough to stay alive 

I’m afraid we’ll need your peoples help 

If we’re going to survive  

Cause, I’m a Fish! 

Gonna spawn till I die 

I’m a Fish! 

I need healthy rivers to survive 


Well I’ve gone upstream  

About as far as I can go 

Been up ladders and elevators 

The goin’s been mighty slow 

But, now I’m up here 

I’m gonna find me a mate 

I’m just a lonely fish 

Lookin for a date  

Cause, I’m a Fish! 

Gonna spawn till I die 

I’m a Fish! 

I need clean water to survive 


I know all you fisher-people  

Would like to see me on a plate 

Well the way I see it brother 

There is much worser a fate! 

I’d rather end up on your table 

Loved by one and all 

Than to be shredded by a turbine 

Where there used to be a waterfall  

Cause, I’m a Fish! 

Gonna spawn till I die 

I’m a Fish! 

I need all your peoples help if I’m going to survive 

Children's Dance

Written, performed, and recorded by Richard Guadagno

We are honored and humbled to include this instrumental piece written and recorded by our former colleague Richard Guadagno.  Richard is well known to the world as one of the fallen heroes of flight 93 on 9/11/2001. To us, he will always be a FWS colleague, biologist, conservationist, family person, and friend first. He was very private about his music and playing and we thank his family for providing us this rare and precious recording.  May his music and love for conservation shine through and bring you peace and inspiration as you listen to it.


This Web of life 

Means we are all connected 

Each tug on the strand 

Means we are all affected 

We are all so much the same 

Monkey or man, it’s just a name 

Can you hear what I say? 

Just look at our DNA! 

Diversity, Biology 

Tell you what it means to me 

Diversity, Biology 

It only means the world to me 

Just a small part in a system 

So complex in its rhythm 

Who can stay and who can go 

Is not our decision 

We must take care of each other 

The birds and the trees are your brother 

We must take care of each other 

Cherish all life and your Earth mother! 

Keeping different, keeping it real 

Is how it’s supposed to be 

We must all come together 

To protect Biodiversity! 

Diversity, Biology 

Tell you what it means to me 

Diversity, Biology 

It only means the world to me 

A Moment of Rest

Music by Liz Dawson

Salmon Song

Words & music by Rhona Barron 1993

“Silvee’s Salmon Band”

Rhona Barron, vocals, percussion

Dave Kruse Coste, bass

Stan Fishburn, drums

Ahna Sandberg, backup vocals

Fern Noland, backup vocals

Michael Nash, piano

Chris Fairbanks, electric violin

Sherry Krebs, percussion

Recorded and mixed at Derek Peet Productions, Wenatchee, WA

Salmon, salmon, you’re a fish!

Salmon, salmon, don’t you wish

That boats and birds and people too

Would get out of your way – so you can get through

You start out in a hatchery or maybe in a stream

Where the water’s cold and flowing, but most of all it’s clean.

You grow and develop, until you get a notion

To start swimming downstream, tail-first to the ocean!

Once you’re in the ocean you swim and play and eat,

Trying to avoid those who want you for a treat.

In a couple years, you’re shiny big and strong

Your instincts are calling, pulling you along.

On that final journey, you’re swimming back upstream.

Back to the spot where you began to dream

Of that final moment, when eggs and milt would blend

Making more salmon, salmon without end!

Salmon, salmon you’re a fish!

Salmon, salmon, don’t you wish

That boats and birds and people too 

Would get out of your way – so you can get through.


Music by Liz Dawson

Liz Dawson, Piano

Recorded at Studio 2000 at the Omnixplex, Camden, NJ

Produced and engineered by Danny McKeown & Paul Piccari, mastered by Paul Piccari.

Working for Tomorrow

Music by Gina Swoope

It’s hard to believe

that it’s been around

our refuges 

for a century

there’s so much 

to be proud of

so much beauty to see

and all because

of people like you and me

so it’s time

it’s time to come together

to celebrate the time of our lives


the things that mean so much

and sharing with our friends and family

our family

Our partners and communities 

Are helping us out

With helping hands

And through it all

So much is improved

Our plants, our fish and our wildlife

Our wildlife

So it’s time 

It’s time to come together

To celebrate the time of our lives


The things that mean so much

And sharing with our friends and family

Our family

Do your part

You got to do your part

For tomorrow

Do your part

You got to do your part 

For tomorrow

Do your part

Crystal River

Music by CQ 

Homeward Bound

Words and music by Tom Jasikoff

Tom Jasikoff, acoustic guitar

Bill Zinni, bass guitar, mandolin

Greg Thompson, mandolin

Kurt Snider, drums, percussion

Tony Leger, backup vocals

Liz Dawson, backup vocals

Mary Jennings, backup vocals

Blair Ramsey, backup vocals

Wild lands, Wild places, Wild things, Wild me

The winds of the refuge whisper to me

Let the rivers run wild

Let the Blue Goose fly free

Let our voices unite

And our spirit delight

In the wild legacy

Misty morning, teeming wildlife, islands, cattails and trees,

The stage of creation – a masterpiece to see

Together we journey

This circle of life

Geese call out their name, as we hear them proclaim

Of their flight coming home!

Changing seasons, changing colors, songbirds, on the migration way

From fields, bogs and treetops, they sing and display

Puffins and plovers

Kestrels and cranes

Find a beautiful home, every refuge they roam

From California to Maine

On the wings of an eagle, we lift our heads high

As our dreams and our prayers reach sunshine and sky

We’re a family of one, a network begun on a promise to fly

100 years strong, the refuge system lives on, with a spirit of pride

Oh the wild life

On the refuge

Longing to be

Homeward and free

Like you and like me

Crown jewels like pearls,  

Up and down the flyway,

For all who forever will find, protected all times

Of the land of our home we call Refuge

Story Tags

Aquatic connectivity
Climate change
Connecting people with nature
Ecological resilience
Education outreach
Employees (USFWS)
Endangered and/or Threatened species
Environmental education
Fish passage
Habitat restoration
Migratory birds
Visitor services
Wildlife refuges
Work of the Service