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American WatchList revealed

Concerted action needed

One hundred and seventy eight species in the continental U.S. and 39 in Hawaii have the dubious distinction of being on the latest list of America’s most endangered birds. WatchList 2007, a joint effort between Audubon (BirdLife in the US) and American Bird Conservancy, reveals those in greatest need of immediate conservation help.

“We call this a ‘WatchList’ but it is really a call to action, because the alternative is to watch these species slip ever closer to oblivion”, said Audubon Bird Conservation Director and co-author of the new list, Greg Butcher. “Agreeing on which species are at the greatest risk is the first step in building the public policies, funding support, innovative conservation initiatives and public commitment needed to save them.”

The new Audubon/American Bird Conservancy WatchList identifies 59 continental and 39 Hawaiian ‘red list’ species of greatest concern, and 119 more in the ‘yellow’ category of seriously declining or rare species. It is based on the latest available research and assessment from the bird conservation community along with data from the Christmas Bird Count and the annual Breeding Bird Survey. “Adoption of this list as the ‘industry standard’ will help to ensure that conservation resources are allocated to the most important conservation needs”, said David Pashley, American Bird Conservancy’s Director of Conservation Programs and co-author of the new list. “How quickly and effectively we act to protect and support the species on this list will determine their future; where we’ve taken aggressive action, we’ve seen improvement.”

Despite ongoing challenges and their continued place on the list, the status of some WatchList species is improving, according to the new data, as broader awareness of their plight has spawned effective conservation action. Several species have benefited from federal protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and now show stabilizing, or even increasing populations. Lacking an ESA designation or the political support needed to secure strong protective measures, others continue to decline.

“Habitat loss due to development, energy exploration and extraction, and the impact of global warming remain serious threats for the most imperiled species, along with others on both the red and yellow lists”, said Pashley. “Concerted action will be needed to address these threats.”

4th July 2014