The State of the Birds Watch List contains the 230 species most in need of conservation action. Without conservation action, these are the birds headed the way of the Passenger Pigeon and other now-extinct American birds, such as the Carolina Parakeet and Heath Hen. Watch List birds meet criteria for a combination of high rate of population decline, small population size, small geographic range, and significant future threats to sustainable populations.
The Watch List contains species already on the federal Endangered list as well as those at risk of becoming Threatened or Endangered. While the Endangered Species Act remains the primary line of defense against extinction, proactive conservation is the most effective way to keep other Watch List species from needing Endangered list protection. Most Watch List species fall into seven categories; addressing issues across landscapes and migratory ranges can efficiently conserve entire suites of at-risk species.