Bicknell’s Thrush conservation is an urgent priority. The species has one of the smallest breeding and wintering ranges of any American bird, and it’s suffered a 7 to 19 percent annual population decline.
The sweet-voiced Bicknell’s Thrush has one of the most fragmented breeding ranges of any North American songbird. This habitat specialist is associated with dense coniferous forests, and habitat loss and degradation, as well as direct mortality, are the highest-priority threats.
We’re seeking to better understand habitat use of Bicknell’s Thrush in eastern Canada — New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Quebec — and identify key sites for conservation, develop best management practices, and raise awareness of the species’ needs.
Important organizations in this effort include two distinguished conservation organizations in Canada, Bird Studies Canada and QuebecOiseaux, that have been working to develop conservation actions as part of the International Bicknell’s Thrush Conservation Group.
The majority of Bicknell’s Thrush concentrate in the Dominican Republic during winter. Science breakthroughs are aiding conservation efforts there, thanks to the work led by the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, Sociedad Ornitológica de la Hispaniola, Grupo Jaragua, and others.
In mapping the core habitats on the Dominican Republic that these birds require, researchers discovered that a higher percentage of male Bicknell’s Thrushes were found at higher elevation, broadleaf forests, while females were found at lower, slightly drier habitats in greater numbers.
As a result, we are working with partners to protect both the priority higher elevation forests including Bahoruco National Park and priority lower-elevation forests including Loma Quita Escuela Scientific Reserve.
Since 2011, we have been working to improve the management of Bahoruco National Park by increasing the number of guards and number of patrols, improving training and capacity for the guards, and secure community buy-in and support for park protection. More recently, we have begun work to restore deforested areas.
In the northern sector of the park, we have seen a decrease in the amount of illegal charcoal production and other illegal activity. In the southern sector, we are working on solutions to commercial as well as poverty-driven illegal activity. Recently a bi-national committee, which includes government representatives from the Dominican Republic and Haiti, was formed to bring together different constituencies to address these threats.
Key partners in these efforts include Sociedad Ornitológica de la Hispaniola, the Ministerio del Ambiente de la Republica Dominicana, Vermont Center for Ecostudies, Fundación Loma Quita Espuela, Grupo Jaragua, and local communities.