What U.S. birds are most in danger of extinction?

That's the question the Watch List of birds, published every few years, is designed to answer. The latest edition was published in 2016 and identifies 432 species most in need of conservation action.

Most of the Watch List species are pro­tected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and more than one-third of them already receive extra protections under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). The species that are not yet ESA species need urgent conservation attention to keep them from becoming threatened or endangered.

Urgent Need in Hawai'i

Land birds in Hawai'i are the group most in need of urgent conservation. ABC has been at the forefront of conservation work for many of them, including the Palila, 'Akikiki, and Maui Parrotbill.

Keeping an Eye on Migratory Birds

Many of the hemisphere's migratory species are declining precipitously and are now Watch List species. ABC's Migratory Birds Program is involved in work to protect many of these species as well, including Cerulean Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Long-billed Curlew, and Wood Thrush.

Grasslands and Aridland Concerns

Both of the country's sage-grouse and prairie-chicken species, famous for their spectacular spring courtship dances, are at dangerously low population levels. They are in danger of being the next U.S. bird species to be lost to extinction without concerted action.

New Watch List Species in Urgent Need

Species making their first appearance on the 2014 Watch List include Eastern and Mexican Whip-poor-wills, Chuck-will's-widow, Bobolink, and Evening Grosbeak.


State of the Birds

A broader report, The State of the Birds, examines the overall health of habitat types as measured by bird trends in seven habitats: grasslands, forests, wetlands, ocean, aridlands, islands, and coasts. The latest update published in 2014, is the fifth since the initial State of the Birds report was released in 2009.

The State of the Birds and the Watch List are compiled by the U.S. Committee of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI), a 23-member partnership of government agencies and conservation groups, including ABC.