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State of the Birds Report

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MacGillivray's Warbler by
Gerrit Vyn

Ongoing declines in the East and West, but progress made in conserving important forest habitats.

The eastern forests indicator for 26 obligate breeding birds shows an overall drop of 32%, with a continued steady decline since 2009. Species dependent on either young forests (such as Golden-winged Warbler and Eastern Towhee) or mature deciduous forest (such as Wood Thrush and Cerulean Warbler) are showing the steepest declines. Because 84% of eastern forests are privately owned, timber companies and other forest owners can greatly benefit bird populations by maintaining large forest blocks and participating in sustainable forestry initiatives.

The western forests indicator, based on 39 obligate breeding species, has declined nearly 20% and has continued to decline since 2009. More than half of western forests are on public lands. Species dependent on oak and pinyonjuniper woodlands (such as Oak Titmouse and Pinyon Jay) are showing the steepest declines. As in the East, both early successional species (such as Rufous Hummingbird and MacGillivray’s Warbler) and mature forest species (such as Vaux’s Swift and Cassin’s Finch) are declining.

Major threats to U.S. forests include urban and ex-urban development, changes in natural disturbance regimes including fire, and exotic insect pests and diseases.

American Woodcock by Chris Wood

Conservation works!

With support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and NRCS Working Lands for Wildlife initiative, state and private partners within the Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture have created 28,000 acres of early successional forest for Golden-winged Warbler and American Woodcock. Similarly, Klamath Siskiyou Oak Network partners have restored 6,000 acres on federal, state, and private lands in southern Oregon and northern California, benefitting oak-dependent birds such as Oak Titmouse. Both are excellent examples of public–private partnerships creating important habitat for declining forest birds.



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