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Red List updates a mixed bag for North American birds

A Yellow-billed Magpie in flight. The species is listed as Vulnerable. Photo by Phoo Chan/Shutterstock

Up-listed to Vulnerable

Chimney Swift. Nesting sites for this high-flying eastern bird are being lost. “In recent times,” researchers write, “the number of available chimneys has decreased as a result of the demolition of old buildings, the capping of old chimneys, and through chimney sweeps removing nests from chimneys (despite the species being protected by federal law). Even though a scarcity of chimneys may not be limiting the numbers of Chimney Swifts yet, the rate of habitat loss is increasing and possibly developing into a severe threat.”

Black Swift. This western species is undergoing a rapid decline of 5.3 percent per year, possibly due to climate change and pesticide use.

Evening Grosbeak. A recent estimate found that this grosbeak’s population fell by 94 percent between 1970 and 2014. And Breeding Bird Survey data shows an annual decline of 2.9 percent from 2005 to 2015.

Yellow-billed Magpie. Endemic to central California, this species declined rapidly from 2003 to 2008 due to mortality caused by West Nile virus. While the slide has slowed, recent records suggest the magpie is still declining moderately.

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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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