A Conservation Action Plan for Bicknell's Thrush
A rare songbird known among some birders as "the ultimate little brown job" is getting much needed help from an international alliance of scientists, conservationists and governments, who have unveiled plans to protect the Bicknell's Thrush (Catharus bicknelli) across its entire range from Canada to the Caribbean.
The International Bicknell's Thrush Conservation Group (IBTCG) proposes to increase the global population of Bicknell's Thrush by 25% over the next 50 years, mostly by preventing further loss of its breeding and wintering habitats.
The Bicknell's Thrush has one of the most restricted ranges among the forest birds of North America. Its breeding range consists primarily of highly fragmented balsam fir forests in the coastal and mountainous regions of eastern Canada (40% of the breeding population) and the New England States. The wintering population of this species is dependent on the threatened mountain forests of the Caribbean Greater Antilles.
The species faces range-wide habitat pressures, including climate change and habitat loss and degradation. Warmer growing seasons could shift suitable breeding habitat into progressively higher, more isolated mountain patches, as well as changing the timing and abundance of insects that constitute the primary diet of the Bicknell's Thrush.
Breeding habitat is also vulnerable to ongoing and future planned management practices such as pre-commercial thinning in regenerating forests that reduces cover for nests and increases nest predation. Mountain-top wind energy projects, telecommunications towers and recreational skiing development on breeding grounds have also reduced the suitable high-elevation habitat for these birds in North America. On wintering grounds in the Caribbean, forest removal for subsistence farming, charcoal production and logging has restricted the species almost exclusively to a handful of Important Bird Areas in that region.
With a global population estimated at only 126,000 or fewer birds, the Committee on the Status on Endangered Wildlife in Canada has recommended a federal listing of Threatened for this species. Bicknell's Thrush is listed as a Species of Special Concern in every U.S. state within its range, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has ranked this medium-sized thrush as globally Vulnerable.
Nature Canada believes we have a shared responsibility for Bicknell's Thrush conservation.
Nature Canada has been working with partners in the Caribbean since 2007 to promote sustainable livelihoods and reduce human impacts on critical biodiversity areas in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.
Just last fall, through an integrated conservation and development project in Formon, a remote community in the buffer zone of Haiti's Macaya National Park, we worked with partners on the ground to renovate and reopen the school. By providing local opportunities for education, we hope that the quality of life will improve in the community, and that the people of the region will be able to become better stewards of their rich and fragile environmental resources.
We continue to engage communities in protecting habitat for at-risk species such as Bicknell's Thrush in biodiversity hotspots along North American flyways.
Bird Studies Canada, our Canadian co-partner in BirdLife International, has been a key proponent of Bicknell's Thrush research and conservation in Canada.
An international plan of action
The International Bicknell's Thrush Conservation Group proposes to increase the global population of the species by 25% over the next 50 years, mostly by preventing further loss of its breeding and wintering habitats. The principal agencies and organizations involved in developing the plan include US Fish and Wildlife Service, Vermont Center for Ecostudies and Bird Studies Canada in close collaboration with Canadian government and non-government partners.
The plan establishes specific conservation and research actions over the next 5 years, including:
For more information on A Conservation Action Plan for Bicknell's Thrush, read the full press release.