Endangered Species Lists – Local to Global

Over the last few posts I’ve covered some topics related to our locally threatened species. I referenced H. David Bohlen’s study of the birds of Sangamon County IL for 40 years and then compared his results to a list of local birds over 30 years. But what species do “major” organizations think are our troubled birds?

If you are like me you can probably name most of the species on your local endangered list. But I was, and I think you will be too, surprised by a couple of species on the lists.

First let me say that there are many different organizations listing birds in decline. If you Google “endangered bird species” you will come up with many organizations with several lists. Many more groups than I thought. And each has its own classification and birds.

But I chose to use one global list, one national list, and one local list from organizations that I see referenced often.  Plus I also included the past report of the US State of the Birds Report.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species- commonly known as the Red List

The State of the Birds Report 2014 – United States of America

USFWS (United States Fish and Wildlife Service) Endangered Species

Indiana Department of Natural Resources Endangered Species

Each organization uses different criteria to put a species on their list. For example the IUCN has a complex system to put a species on one of their nine Red List categories. That policy is stated in their 38 page file entitled “IUCN RED LIST CATEGORIES AND CRITERIA“.  The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has a shorter two page document entitled “Listing Species as Threatened or Endangered”. The State of the Birds has a paragraph on their “Watch List“. And the Indiana DNR includes their own and the USFWS criteria on their “Endangered and Special Concern Species” page. I’ll leave it to the reader to review each group’s criteria.

But keep in mind that each organization’s criteria is based on the scale they reference. From global to local.  And the result is that this change in criteria means that each list will have different species. Which gives the surprising results that I stated earlier.

First we’ll look at the Indiana DNR list which also includes the USFWS ratings in parenthesis. If you have been birding for any length of time in the Midwest and have talked to people birding for years, none of the species on the list should come as a surprise.

Indiana DNR and USFWS List

State Endangered                  Special Concern

Trumpeter Swan                               Ruffed Grouse
American Bittern                               Great Egret
Least Bittern                                      Mississippi Kite
Black-crowned Night-Heron           Bald Eagle
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron         Sharp-shinned Hawk
Osprey                                                Red-shouldered Hawk
Northern Harrier                              Broad-winged Hawk
Black Rail                                            Sandhill Crane
King Rail                                             American Golden-Plover
Virginia Rail                                       Solitary Sandpiper
Common Gallinule                            Greater Yellowlegs
Whooping Crane (FE)                       Ruddy Turnstone
Piping Plover (FE)                            Rufa Red Knot (FT)
Upland Sandpiper                             Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Least Tern (FE)                                Short-billed Dowitcher
Black Tern                                        Wilson’s Phalarope
Barn Owl                                           Common Nighthawk
Short-eared Owl                              Eastern Whip-poor-will
Loggerhead Shrike                          Peregrine Falcon
Sedge Wren                                      Black-and-white Warbler
Marsh Wren                                     Worm-eating Warbler
Golden-winged Warbler                 Hooded Warbler
Kirtland’s Warbler (FE)                 Western Meadowlark
Cerulean Warbler
Henslow’s Sparrow
Yellow-headed Blackbird



State of Birds 2014 List – Indiana Species


American Golden-Plover                    Black Rail
American Woodcock                            Piping Plover (Great Lakes)
Black-billed Cuckoo                             Red Knot (N. Am. pop)
Canada Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Connecticut Warbler
Eastern Whip-poor-will
Golden-winged Warbler
Kentucky Warbler
King Rail
Lesser Yellowlegs
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Pectoral Sandpiper
Prairie Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler
Red-headed Woodpecker
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Wood Thrush

And now for the IUCN’s Red List for Indiana. Remember that “Assessments on the IUCN Red List are of extinction risk at the global scale”, not just our local level. Which lead to some surprises for me.

IUCN Red List for Indiana

Near Threatened                             Vulnerable

Henslow’s Sparrow                        Cerulean Warbler
Semipalmated Sandpiper             Rusty Blackbird
Buff-breasted Sandpiper              Horned Grebe
Chimney Swift
Northern Bobwhite
Wood Thrush
Red-headed Woodpecker
Golden-winged Warbler
Bell’s Vireo

Chimney Swift? Wood Thrush? Horned Grebe? Semipalmated Sandpiper?

Who would have initially thought these local or locally migrating birds would have been on the IUCN’s Red List?

But on second thought the migrating Semipalmated Sandpiper really isn’t a surprise since other sandpipers are under pressure. But the other three? We see them at the appointed time of year and usually in good numbers. Are they really threatened?

And that is the advantage of having a global organization look at endangered species. 

It’s just like my earlier post about Turtle Doves. Where field biologists are currently seeing roosts of 35,000 Turtle Doves on their winter grounds just a few years ago there were roosts of 100,000’s. If I really think about it, similar things are probably happening to the Chimney Swift, Wood Thrush, and Horned Grebe.

Which made those species being on the list a surprise. And those surprises will lead into the next blog on endangered species.

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