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State of the Birds Report

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Western Forest

Redwood and Douglas-fir forests of the Pacific Coast are some of the tallest forests in the world. Western forests also include conifer, pine-oak, and pinyon-juniper forests of the mountains, riparian ribbons of deciduous forest along major rivers, and oak woodlands. Photo by Gerrit Vyn


Birds in Trouble


Lewis's Woodpecker by
Kenneth V. Rosenberg
Federally listed as threatened:

Marbled Murrelet, (Northern) Spotted Owl, (Mexican) Spotted Owl, (Southwestern) Willow Flycatcher. 

Several groups of western forest birds are declining:

  • Specialized permanent residents, such as Pinyon Jay (threatened by massive die-off of pinyon pines), Oak Titmouse (threatened by loss of California oak woodlands), and Yellow-billed Magpie (threatened by loss of oaks and by West Nile virus).

  • Temperate migrants dependent on mature pine forests, including Lewis’s Woodpecker, Plumbeous Vireo, Grace’s Warbler, and Cassin’s Finch.

  • Neotropical migrants such as Black Swift, Western Wood-Pewee, and Black-throated Gray Warbler. The steeply declining Black Swift is vulnerable to increasing drought conditions because it nests behind waterfalls.

  • Many Pacific forest birds, including Marbled Murrelet, Spotted Owl, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Varied Thrush, Band-tailed Pigeon, Rufous Hummingbird, and Chestnut-backed Chickadee. Murrelets and Spotted Owls require structurally diverse old-growth forests.

Spotted Owl by James

Reasons for Hope

Vast areas of western forests on public lands are protected from permanent conversion to other land uses. Improved forest management, such as restoring natural fire regimes and fencing riparian areas to prevent overgrazing, can benefit many forest birds.



See next page for information about boreal forests.


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