Red List updates a mixed bag for North American birds

A juvenile Newell’s Shearwater. The species is now considered Critically Endangered. Photo by Lindsay Young

In late 2018, BirdLife International and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature announced they had updated the conservation status of 93 bird species around the world on IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. The Red List, dubbed the “barometer of life,” keeps a record of how close species are to extinction.

Scientists updated the listings for no fewer than 21 bird species that are found in various parts of the United States, Canada, and the Bahamas, raising the threat status for most of them and lowering it for others. Here’s a summary of the changes.

Up-listed to Critically Endangered

Newell’s Shearwater. This seabird nests principally on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i while small colonies occur elsewhere in the state. Its population size is estimated between 10,000 and 20,000 adults. Threats include introduced predators, attraction to artificial light, collisions with powerlines, and habitat alteration. The bird requires “targeted conservation work” to prevent future declines. A recent bit of good news is that a colony of this species may have been found on Oahu, where it was believed to have vanished by the late 1700s.

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Bahama Nuthatch. This bird is found only on Grand Bahama Island and was feared lost to extinction after a hurricane struck in 2016. Surveys in 2018, however, located a handful of individuals.

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Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall is the editor of BirdWatching magazine and BirdWatchingDaily.com. He joined the staff of BirdWatching (formerly Birder’s World) in 2000 and has worn many hats over the years: reporter, story wrangler, photo editor, managing editor, and now editor. Originally from Omaha, he lives with his wife and two daughters in Milwaukee and holds a Bachelor’s in journalism from Marquette University. You can reach Matt at (617) 706-9098 and [email protected].

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