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State of the Birds

Learn about the most significant threats to North American bird species

Juvenile Northern Spotted Owl - Scott Carpenter
Juvenile Northern Spotted Owl - Scott Carpenter

The State of the Birds report, published every few years, summarizes our current understanding of the most significant threats to North American bird species using long-term population monitoring data. It includes a Watch List of the birds in most need of conservation action. The Watch List is divided into a red list of extremely vulnerable species and a yellow list of species in decline. The report is put together by a team of scientists from the North American Bird Conservation Initiative in joint effort with agencies and organizations including the US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Audubon, American Bird Conservancy and others.

2014 State of the Birds Report

The most recent report provides troubling news about bird declines for 230 species across several key habitats. Yet the report also includes some hopeful news on bird population recoveries where a strong conservation investment has been made.

Birds in aridlands are suffering the steepest population declines in the nation, with a 46 percent decline since 1968 primarily due to habitat loss. There are also significant threats in the nation’s grasslands, where the report notes a decline in breeding birds like the Bobolink. However, grassland declines have leveled off since 1990 — the result of significant investments in grassland bird conservation. Shorebirds are declining more than any other group. Nineteen shorebird species show an alarming 50 percent decline since 1974. A few shorebirds, like the American Oystercatcher, are on the come-back due to concerted conservation efforts. Many seabirds are facing multiple threats – introduced nest predators on islands as well as rising sea levels and increasing storm frequency stemming from climate change.

In Oregon, five species made the red list and 34 the yellow (not including distinct populations of conservation concern); 25 of these species regularly breed in the state. Audubon Society of Portland’s efforts across Oregon – including the restoration of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, protection of remaining old growth forests and the promotion of marine reserves – is helping safeguard many of the bird species on Oregon’s Watch List.

Full report | North American Watch List | Common Birds in Decline List | News release

Previous Reports

2013 State of the Birds: Private Lands
2011 State of the Birds: Public Lands and Waters
2010 State of the Birds Report: Climate Change

2009 State of the Birds Report: Climate Change and Birds

How You Can Help


State of the Birds 2014 - cover
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