10 bird species that are still here thanks to the Endangered Species Act

Among the birds that are better off thanks to Endangered Species Act protections (l-r): Brown Pelican, Golden-cheeked Warbler, and Piping Plover. Photos by Tony Britton, Lora Render, and Michael Rossacci

Subscribe today to BirdWatching magazine for ID tips, conservation news, and much more.

The Endangered Species Act is one of the most effective, and arguably the best known, environmental laws in the United States. It has been in place since President Nixon signed it into law in 1973, and it enjoys broad support among the American public. 

In a 2016 report, the American Bird Conservancy found that recovery success for listed bird species was at 70 percent nationwide — 78 percent for mainland birds and 52 percent for Hawaiian species. Some have recovered enough to have been delisted while others have bounced back but have yet to meet recovery goals.

Despite the public support and decent track record, Congress has been trying to weaken the law for years, and the Trump administration recently joined in by proposing fundamental changes to the way the ESA is implemented. 

Audubon, the American Bird Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, and other conservation groups are pushing back. To add your voice, visit their websites to learn how. And if you need a bit of inspiration — and examples of birds that have benefited from being listed under the ESA — flip through the following slideshow. The photos all come from talented photographers who’ve added their images to our online galleries. — Matt Mendenhall

Kirtland’s Warbler

Kirtland’s Warbler

This handsome warbler has one of the most geographically restricted breeding distributions of any bird in the continental United States. It nests within jack pine forests in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ontario. Today, management for Kirtland's Warbler habitat emulates the results of wildfire. The bird migrates to the Bahamas for winter.

Its population numbers more than 2,300 breeding pairs, well above recovery goals. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed delisting the species in 2018. Conservation efforts are expected to continue under a grant by a Michigan-based philanthropic group. 

This photo, shot in Ogemaw County, Michigan, comes from woodsongphoto. 

Readers of BirdWatching in early 2013 voted Kirtland’s Warbler the seventh most-wanted bird in the United States and Canada. Here’s what you need to know to add it to your life list.

Originally Published