BirdingKnowledge about birds
10 Most Endangered Birds
Once this species made most of the southeastern United States its home, but it was considered extinct for decades until a single bird was spotted in Arkansas in 2004.
California Condor: The California condor became extinct in the wild in 1987, when the last six wild birds known were captured and placed in a captive-breeding recovery program. Now the condor exists only where it has been reintroduced, in open rangelands, coniferous forest, oak savanna, and rocky open-country scrub-land areas of southern and Baja California and Arizona. In November 2005, the California Department of Fish and Game, Habitat Conservation and Planning Branch estimated that the population had reached about 270 individuals, including 145 in captivity.
Whooping cranes once bred across the central prairies of the northern United States and Canada, wintering in the highlands of northern Mexico, the Texas Gulf coast, and portions of the Atlantic coast. Beginning in the late 1800s, the species declined rapidly, and by 1941, only about 20 cranes remained in the wild.
Captive breeding after the crane was included on the endangered Species list in 1967, has rebuilt the population to about 340 Whooping cranes in the wild and 135 in captivity.
Once native to parts of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah, Gunnison Sage-Grouse populations have plummeted as sagebrush habitat has been lost and degraded due to development, resource extraction, and agriculture. Now only seven populations exist in isolated areas of southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah. Not yet listed under the Act despite a number of petitions to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Gunnison Sage-Grouse population is estimated at between 2,000 to 6,000 during the spring breeding season.
This migratory songbird nests under trees in young jack pine forests in Michigan, Wisconsin and Ontario. Fire suppression activities have decreased its habitat, and competition for nest space with cowbirds also has destroyed the warbler populations.
In 1989, the total Kirtland’s Warbler population in Michigan was believed to be around 200. Since then, intensive programs to promote suitable habitat and trap cowbirds have worked. In 2005, a state survey of male Kirtland’s Warblers counted 1,415 singing males. If all have mates, the total population is around 2,800.
This small shorebird nests on beaches and sandflats along the Atlantic coast, the Great lakes, and large rivers and lakes in the Great Plains on the United States and Canada.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists the entire species of Piping Plover as either endangered or threatened. With about 6,100 birds, the population has increased after years of intensive management. Federal and state programs include predator fences, restrictions on motorized vehicles in the vicinity of flightless chicks, and stewards to control and monitor nesting sites on public and some private land.
Facing extinction, this jay depends on rare areas of oak scrub that must be renewed periodically by fires started by lightning. By minimizing the occurrence of fire, development has fragmented the species' habitat. Estimated at 10,000 in 1991, the population was estimated at 8,000 last year. Ashy Storm-Petrel: From 50 to 70 percent of the breeding population is located on Southeast Farallon island in the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge and on California’s Channel Islands. With its already small population having declined by half in the last 50 years, the species should be listed as endangered although the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists it instead as a “declining species of management concern.” An estimated 5,000 to 10,000 birds remain.
This migratory songbird breeds only in Ashe juniper woodlands in Central Texas. Between 1960 and 1980, this habitat was reduced by development by about a quarter. Anticipation that the warbler would be federally listed as an endangered species prompted landowners to deliberately destroy more habitat in 1990. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now lists the golden-cheeked warbler as endangered. The population is estimated between 9,600 and 32,000.
Kittlitz’s Murrelet: This small seabird feeds in the coastal regions of Alaska where glaciers meet the sea and nests a few miles inland in the mountains and on cliff faces. Populations have dropped almost 85 percent in Prince William Sound, as much as 75 percent in the Malaspina Forelands, and more than 80 percent in the Kenai Fjords area in recent decades. Ornithologists consider it critically endangered.
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