The 1988 amendment to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act mandates the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to “identify species, subspecies, and populations of all migratory nongame birds that, without additional conservation actions, are likely to become candidates for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973.” Birds of Conservation Concern 2008 (BCC 2008) is the most recent effort to carry out this mandate. The overall goal of this report is to accurately identify the migratory and non-migratory bird species (beyond those already designated as federally threatened or endangered) that represent our highest conservation priorities. The geographic scope of this endeavor is the United States in its entirety, including island "territories" in the Pacific and Caribbean. BCC 2008 encompasses three distinct geographic scales—North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs), USFWS Regions, and National—and is primarily derived from assessment scores from three major bird conservation plans: the Partners in Flight North American Landbird Conservation Plan, the United States Shorebird Conservation Plan, and the North American Waterbird Conservation Plan.
Bird species considered for inclusion on lists in this report include nongame birds, gamebirds without hunting seasons, subsistence-hunted nongame birds in Alaska; and Endangered Species Act candidate, proposed endangered or threatened, and recently delisted species. Assessment scores from all three bird conservation plans are based on several factors, including population trends, threats, distribution, abundance, and relative density. These assessment scores serve as the foundation on which we built the BCC 2008 lists. Although the different bird conservation plans use somewhat different methods for determining the highest priority species, the scores from each represent true conservation priorities for each of the three species groups (landbirds, shorebirds, and waterbirds). We therefore view the conservation priorities within each plan as approximately equivalent. After creating BCR lists, we developed specific criteria for including species on USFWS Region and National lists. The various BCR lists contain 10 to 53 species, USFWS Region lists contain 27 to 78 species, and the National list contains 147 species. On average, priority species make up about 10 to 15 percent of the native bird species in any given geographic unit.
While all of the bird species included in BCC 2008 are priorities for conservation action, this list makes no finding with regard to whether they warrant consideration for ESA listing. Our goal is to prevent or remove the need for additional ESA bird listings by implementing proactive management and conservation actions. We recommend that these lists be consulted in accordance with Executive Order 13186, “Responsibilities of Federal Agencies to Protect Migratory Birds.” This report should also be used to develop research, monitoring, and management initiatives. BCC 2008 is intended to stimulate coordinated and collaborative proactive conservation actions among Federal, State, Tribal, and private partners. We hope that, by focusing attention on these highest-priority species, this report will promote greater study and protection of the habitats and ecological communities upon which these species depend, thereby contributing to healthy avian populations and communities.