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State of the Birds Report

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Eastern Forest

An eastern deciduous forest turns ablaze with color in the fall. Eastern forests include northern hardwood and other mixed forests of the Northeast and upper Midwest, oak-hickory and other deciduous forests of the Appalachians, coastal plain, and river valleys, and southeastern longleaf and slash pine forests. Photo by Gerrit Vyn

Birds in Trouble


Golden-winged Warbler by
Roger Erickson
Federally listed as Endangered: Wood Stork, Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Bachman’s Warbler, Kirtland’s Warbler. Threatened: Florida Scrub-Jay.


The eastern U.S. has lost two forest species to extinction: Passenger Pigeon and Carolina Parakeet. Hope is dimming for Bachman’s Warbler and Ivory-billed Woodpecker.

Many eastern forest birds are suffering consistent and troubling declines:

  • Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, and Bachman’s Sparrow, year-round residents of mature southern pine forests, especially the highly threatened longleaf pine ecosystem.

  • Neotropical migrants that require large blocks of intact forests, such as Kentucky Warbler, Wood Thrush, and Eastern Wood-Pewee. The Cerulean Warbler is threatened by mountaintop-removal coal mining along Appalachian ridges and clearing of riverine forests.

  • Species dependent on disturbed or early successional forest or natural disturbance (including pine barrens) including the Golden-winged Warbler, Whip-poor-will, Prairie Warbler, Eastern Towhee, and Field Sparrow, and popular game species such as Northern Bobwhite and American Woodcock.

Wild Turkey by Gerrit Vyn

Reasons for Hope

Wild Turkeys were close to extinction in the early 1900s but have increased tremendously (8.9% per year since 1968) in response to reintroduction programs, management, and forest regeneration.

Many characteristic eastern forest birds, including woodpeckers, chickadees, hawks, and owls, have adapted to urban and suburban plantings and parks, buffering them from the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation.

See next page for information about western forests.


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