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State of the Birds Report

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Subtropical Forests

Palm Savannah in Southmost Preserve by Rich Kostecke

Although subtropical forests make up less than 1% of U.S. forest lands, a suite of 16 bird species is completely dependent on these forests within the U.S. portions of their range in south Texas and southern Florida. About 73% of U.S. subtropical forests are on private lands, mostly on several large ranches.

Subtropical Forest Birds on Private Lands

On average, more than 90% of the U.S. breeding distribution of subtropical forest birds is on private lands. For species restricted to south Texas—such as Audubon’s Oriole, Olive Sparrow, and White-tipped Dove—private lands account for more than 95% of their distributions. In Florida, 74% of the distribution of Short-tailed Hawks is on private lands.

Subtropical Forest Bird Distribution 

Subtropical forest birds rely heavily on private lands for breeding habitat. Short-tailed Hawks have about 74% of their distribution on private lands. Short-tailed Hawk by Tom Johnson. 
Conservation Successes

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl by Chris

Private landowners are critical partners in bird conservation within Texas' Rio Grande Joint Venture Region. The Yturria Ranch includes 14,000 acres of pasture and native forest, with critical conservation easements held by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy. Restoration of native forests supports healthy populations of forest birds, such as Long-billed Thrasher and Common Pauraque. Nearby, the 1,000-acre Southmost Preserve, owned by The Nature Conservancy, protects one of the last stands of native sabal palm trees in the U.S., as well as Tamaulipan thornscrub forest. The Southmost Preserve provides habitat for Altamira Oriole, Tropical Parula, and Groove-billed Ani.

Among the largest working ranches in the world, the 825,000-acre King Ranch is dedicated to environmental stewardship, wildlife management, and research, while promoting recreational hunting and bird watching. The ranch has been designated as a Globally Important Bird Area and is a site on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. Among the 356 bird species recorded on the ranch are the largest U.S. populations of Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl and Tropical Parula. 


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