Yellow-billed Cuckoo Protected Under Endangered Species Act

Rare Songbird Needs Restoration of Rivers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wyoming

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— Following a 2011 agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity to speed protection decisions for 757 imperiled species nationwide, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today protected the yellow-billed cuckoo under the Endangered Species Act. In August the agency proposed to protect more than 500,000 acres in nine western states as critical habitat for the bird, which is expected to be finalized next year. 

“Yellow-billed cuckoos were once common along rivers all over the West, but because of our poor treatment of western rivers, they’re now found in just a handful of places,” said Noah Greenwald, the Center’s endangered species director. “With just a little more care, we can restore the rivers the cuckoo needs to survive, benefiting not just this unique songbird, but hundreds of other plants and animals and people too.”

The yellow-billed cuckoo — often called the “rain crow” for its habit of singing right before storms — breeds in streamside gallery forests of cottonwood and willow that once thrived along nearly every water body in the West. It has been devastated by dams, livestock grazing, water withdrawals, river channelization and other factors. Once prevalent from the shores of Lake Washington in Seattle to the mouth of the Colorado River, today it survives in small numbers on portions of the Sacramento, Eel and Kern rivers in California; the Colorado, Gila, Verde and San Pedro rivers in Arizona; the Gila and Rio Grande rivers in New Mexico; and scattered locations in Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Texas, Wyoming and Utah.

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Learn more about the  yellow-billed cuckoo.

Contact: Noah Greenwald

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Media Contacts:
Mike Stark, Communications Director, (520) 623-5252 ext. 315

Andy Parker, Media Specialist – Endangered Species, (503) 310-5569

Patrick Sullivan, Media Specialist – Climate Change, Fracking, (415) 632-5316

Russ McSpadden, Communications Associate – Media Photos

Banner photo courtesy Flickr/Lalo Pangue; gray wolf photo by MacNeil Lyons, NPS