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BIRDS THAT NEED US TO GET TO 350 Photo credits
Adelie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae)
Range: Antarctic coast and Antarctic islands
Although Adélie penguins live on or near sea ice during their entire lives, they need dry land to rear chicks. Adélie parents build nests out of pebbles on scarce patches of ice- and snow-free Antarctic shoreline, actively defending these refuges from pebble-pinching neighbors. Adélie penguins are declining on the Antarctic Peninsula, which is warming faster than any other place in the Southern Hemisphere. As sea ice off the western Antarctic Peninsula shrinks, so do populations of the Adélie’s food supply: krill. Warmer temperatures also allow the air to hold more moisture, which leads to more snowfall and makes it even harder for Adélies to find snow-free ground for nesting. Adélie populations have dropped by 65 percent over the past 25 years. According to a study by Antarctic researchers, 70 percent of the world’s Adélie penguins will be in jeopardy if temperatures rise by another 1.3° degrees Celsius, which is projected to occur by mid-century if we keep on our current course.
African penguin (Spheniscus demersus)
Range: southwestern coast of Africa, in colonies on 24 islands along Namibia and South Africa
The African penguin — the only penguin species that breeds in Africa — was formerly known as the “jackass penguin” because of its donkey-like braying call. Hit by chronic oil spills and commercial fisheries that deplete its food supply, African penguins have dwindled from an estimated 1.5 million birds in 1910 to less than 10 percent of that number today. Climate change is hurting the ocean realm where African penguins find food: the Benguela Current upwelling system along the southwestern African coast. Warming is thought to increase the frequency of extreme weather events in the area and reduce ocean upwelling, both of which make penguin food scarce. Climate change-caused rising sea levels and increased rainfall have also increased the flooding of penguin breeding colonies, preventing penguin parents from successfully rearing young..

The Center petitioned to protect the African penguin under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 2006, and in 2008 the African penguin was proposed as an endangered species.
A`kiapola a`u (Hemignathus munroi)
Range: Island of Hawai`i
The woodpecker-like hammering of this endangered, bright yellow honeycreeper can be heard only in the forests of the island of Hawai`i. This bird’s bill is adapted for the demanding task of hammering on large branches of koa and mamane trees to hunt for insects, using its down-curved upper bill to probe and its strait, stout lower bill to excavate. Habitat destruction from logging and grazing have severely reduced a`kiapola a`u populations.

As climate change causes temperatures to increase in Hawai`i’s mountains, deadly nonnative bird diseases, including avian malaria and pox, will likely also creep up the mountains, invading most of the last disease-free refuges for the a`kiapola a`u.
`Akikiki (Oreomystis bairdi)
Range: Kaua`i

The `akikiki, or Kaua`i creeper, is a small endangered bird in the Hawai`i honeycreeper subfamily with a grey back and white belly. Once found in many parts of Kaua`i, this four-inch, finch-like bird has been pushed back due to disease transmission. Its populations were also devastated by two strong hurricanes that came through its island home back in the 1980s and 1990s. Climate change is likely to combine with past land-use changes and biological invasions to drive several of the remaining species of Hawai`i’s native birds to extinction, especially on the islands of Kaua`i and Hawai`i. As climate change causes temperatures to increase in Hawai`i’s mountains, deadly nonnative bird diseases, including avian malaria and pox, will likely creep up the mountains, invading disease-free `akikiki refuges.

In 2004, the Center and allies petitioned to safeguard 225 species that had been languishing unprotected as "candidates" for Endangered Species Act listing, including the `akikiki. In 2008, the federal government proposed to protect the bird as well as 47 other Kaua`i species.

A`kohekohe (crested honeycreeper) (Palmeria dolei)
Range: northeastern slope of Haleakala Volcano on island of Maui
Already extirpated from the island of Moloka'i, this beautiful honeycreeper is known for its decorative plumage and for aggressively defending its remaining territory — the canopy of high-elevation rainforest on Maui's Haleakala Volcano. In addition to habitat destruction from feral pigs and invasive plants, the a'kohekohe faces a higher disease risk due to climate change. As temperatures increase in Maui’s mountains, mosquitoes carrying deadly nonnative bird diseases, including avian malaria and pox, are projected to creep up the mountains and eliminate much of the a'kohekohe’s remaining disease-free forest habitat.
`Alala (Hawaiian crow) (Corvus hawaiiensis)
Range: Endemic to western and southern dry forests of the island of Hawai`i; extinct in the wild
The Hawaiian crow, which once roamed Hawai`i’s dry forests in raucous flocks, is now one of the most critically endangered birds in the world. The species became extinct in the wild in 2002, and in 2008 totaled only 56 individuals in two captive breeding facilities on Hawai`i and Maui. The `alala declined due to habitat destruction from logging, agriculture, and feral pigs, predation by nonnative rats and mongoose, and introduced diseases, including toxoplasmosis, avian malaria, and pox. Efforts to reintroduce captive birds into the wild have not been successful.

Deadly nonnative bird diseases, including avian malaria and pox, will likely increase as climate change causes temperatures to rise in Hawai`i’s mountains, eliminating disease-free forest habitat.
Ashy storm petrel (Oceanodroma Homochroa)
Range: Off the coast of central California south to Baja, Mexico
This small, ash-gray seabird comes and goes from its nesting burrows only at night, using the darkness as protection from would-be predators. The ashy nests on only a handful of islands off the coast of California and Baja California and has declined dramatically in numbers in recent decades. Increasing ocean temperatures, harsher El Niño events, and ocean acidification in the California Current marine ecosystem off the West Coast threaten the ecosystem’s entire food web, including the petrel’s prey. Sea-level rise threatens to drown important nesting habitat for the bird in sea caves and on offshore rocks.

The Center petitioned to list the seabird as federally endangered in 2007. In August 2009, the agency announced it would not protect the bird, despite science clearly showing its endangerment.
Attwater’s prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri)
Range: Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge near Eagle Lake, Texas and the Texas City Prairie Preserve near Texas City
The Attwater’s Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, near Houston, is home to one of the last populations of this critically endangered grouse. Historically, Attwater’s prairie chicken occupied some 6 million acres of coastal prairie habitat (now reduced to 200,000 fragmented acres). About a million Attwater's prairie chickens roamed the Gulf Coast prairies of southwestern Louisiana and Texas in 1900. Within two decades, they were gone from Louisiana. Despite ongoing releases of captive-bred birds, the wild population has lingered at fewer than 50 birds for much of the past decade. A spring 2005 census estimated 40 birds lived wild, confined to two reserves in Texas.

The fragmented coastal prairie patches inhabited by this prairie chicken are sensitive to changes in the timing and amount of rainfall. Coastal prairie may be adversely affected by warmer, drier conditions and increasing drought conditions, leading to lower food supply for the birds. Increased temperatures and climatic disruption brought about by global warming may also result in increased frequency and intensity of parasite outbreaks.
Black-breasted puffleg(Eriocnemis nigrivestis)
Range: Northwestern slopes of Ecuador’s Pichincha volcano, an area less than 34 square kilometers
Found nowhere outside Ecuador, the black-breasted puffleg is a small to average-sized hummingbird with distinctive white leg plumage. This little bird prefers high altitudes, spending the rainy season above 10,000 feet and the rest of the year — when certain preferred plants flower — residing between 9,006 and 10,000 feet. Its population is estimated to have declined by 50 to 79 percent in the past 10 years and now consists of fewer than 250 individuals. High-elevation tropical mountain forests are shifting upslope due to climate change. Tropical bird species like the puffleg are sensitive to microclimate conditions and will move up mountains in response to warming temperatures. Eventually, they’ll risk running out of room.

In response to a series of Center lawsuits against the Fish and Wildlife Service for delaying protection of the puffleg, which was petitioned for listing in 1980 and 1991, the Service in January 2009 finally proposed to list the black breasted puffleg as endangered.
Black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla)
Range: Oklahoma south through Edwards Plateau and Big Bend National Park, Texas, to central Coahuila, Mexico
The small black-capped vireo has been listed as an endangered species in the United States since 1987. Males generally court females with displays and calls. The male songbird cares for some or all of the fledglings, while the female may nest again — sometimes with another male. These birds are insectivorous, relying on a diet made up largely of beetles and caterpillars. Among the threats facing the black-capped vireo: parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds, loss of habitat, and now global warming. Warmer and drier conditions in the Southwest could further reduce habitat for this species, especially if suitable conditions shift out of existing refuges.
Black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes)
Range: Breed on Pacific Ocean islands, mainly Northwestern Hawaiian Islands; forage in North Pacific Ocean
This large, long-winged seabird makes epic journeys across the North Pacific, sometimes exceeding 9,000 kilometers per trip, to gather squid and fish to feed its chick. While at sea, thousands of black-footed albatrosses are drowned every year in U.S. and international longline and gillnet fisheries. Because most of the world’s black-footed albatrosses nest on the low-lying islands of the Northwest ern Hawaiian Island chain, sea-level rise and higher storm surge due to climate change threaten to drown nests.

The Center and other groups petitioned to protect this species under the Endangered Species Act in 2004, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now deciding whether to protect this species.
Western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea)
Range: North, Central, and South America
Unlike most owls, the burrowing owl doesn’t live in trees, and it’s not nocturnal. It makes its nest underground — usually in abandoned rodent burrows — and is active both day and night. Although the burrowing owl was once widespread, habitat destruction has reduced the western burrowing owl’s breeding populations by more than 60 percent. Much of the burrowing owl’s western habitat will become drier, and drought conditions will increase with global warming, which will likely lead to reduced food supply for the owl.

The Center and allies petitioned in 2003 to protect the California population of the owl under the California Endangered Species Act, but the state refused to list the owl based largely on an inaccurate, inconsistent report by the California Department of Fish and Game. Our efforts to combat urban sprawl throughout the Southwest and California will help preserve burrowing owl habitat.
California clapper rail (Rallus longirostris obsoletus)
Range: California’s San Francisco, Moray, and Monterey bays
The California clapper rail is an endangered subspecies of clapper rail found principally in the San Francisco Bay. It’s a chicken-sized bird that rarely flies and needs wetlands dominated by pickleweed, bulrush, and cordgrass for food and cover from predators. Population numbers are precariously low due to destruction of its coastal and estuarine marshland habitat by development. Sea-level rise threatens to squeeze the California clapper rail and its marsh habitat between rising waters and asphalt from Bay Area development. The clapper rail’s estuary, salt marsh, and tidal flat habitat will be lost if these habitats aren’t allowed to move inland with rising sea levels, which could be prevented by coastal development and coastal armoring.

In July 2009, the Center settled a 2007 lawsuit filed against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requiring the agency to formally evaluate the harmful effects of 74 pesticides on nearly a dozen Bay Area species, including the clapper rail.
California spotted owl (Strix occidentalis occidentalis)
Range: Sierra Nevada and Southern California mountain ranges
The iconic California spotted owl is a bellwether of old-growth forests. This owl’s classic four-note call was once commonly heard throughout the big trees of the Sierra Nevada and Southern California ranges, but logging, sprawl, and invasion by the barred owl are silencing it. Old-growth forests in the range of the California spotted owl have declined by roughly 90 percent. Increased precipitation during the late breeding season lowers the success of spotted owls in raising their young, likely by inhibiting prey populations and parents’ ability to capture prey for their offspring, or by directly causing the deaths of chicks. Altered rainfall patterns caused by climate change could thus jeopardize the owl’s ability to rear its young.

The Center has helped stop a number of timber sales in the Sierra Nevada and advocated for strong owl protection in plans developed for the Giant Sequoia National Monument and four Southern California national forests.
Cape Sable seaside sparrow (Ammodramus maritimus mirabilis)
Range: Dade and Monroe counties in the Everglades system in southern Florida
The Cape Sable seaside sparrow isn’t nicknamed the “Goldilocks bird” for nothing: In order for this little sparrow to survive, its habitat conditions have to be just right. Unfortunately, this sparrow’s habitat in south Florida’s Everglades system has been the target of drastic water-level manipulation that has been devastating to the bird’s population, and strong storms — like Hurricane Andrew in 1992 — have posed further serious setbacks. As sea level rises, the freshwater marshes inhabited by the sparrow are being flooded and turning into mud flats and mangrove-dominated marine waters. Increasingly severe hurricanes due to global warming also threaten this bird’s chances for survival, since hurricanes can kill the tiny birds directly or alter the plant communities they rely on.

The Center and Florida Biodiversity Project filed suit in September 2009 to reverse a Bush-era decision that stripped 70,000 acres of critical habitat identified by scientists as essential for the survival of the rare songbird.
Cassin’s auklet (Ptychoramphus aleuticus)
Range: Pacific Ocean and West Coast from Alaska to Mexico
Underwater, the Cassin's auklet is an agile diver, propelling itself to depths of up to 80 meters with its wings to feed on krill — small, shrimp-like crustaceans. While flying, this small, chunky seabird is a little less graceful, resembling a mini-football with rapidly whirring wings. Cassin’s auklets nests in deep burrows on offshore islands without predators from Alaska to Mexico. Increasing ocean temperatures, harsher El Niño events, and ocean acidification in the California Current marine ecosystem off the West Coast threaten the ecosystem’s entire food web, including the prey of the Cassin’s auklet. The world’s largest breeding populations in British Columbia and the largest California population have been rapidly declining in recent decades, including years of unprecedented complete breeding failure when chicks starved en masse. This failure has been linked to changes in ocean climate conditions.
Coastal California gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica)
Range: Southern California and Baja California, Mexico
In the coastal sage scrub that once stretched unbroken from Ventura County to northern Baja California, this tiny gray songbird’s habitat now lies amid a patchwork of freeways, shopping malls, and farmlands. Ninety percent of Southern California’s coastal sage scrub has already been lost to development, and remnant patches have been hit hard by unnaturally frequent wildfire. According to a recent Audubon study, the California gnatcatcher — which has already lost most its habitat — could lose as much as 56 percent of its range due to climate change.

Since the gnatcatcher was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act — soon after the Center filed a listing petition — the Center has successfully pressed for improved conservation measures for the bird under the San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Plan and won a landmark settlement to protect the gnatcatcher.
Cozumel curassow (Crax rubra griscomi)
Range: Cozumel Island, Mexico
A large, black bird with a spectacular crest, the Cozumel curassow is found in only one place in the world: the small, tropical island of Cozumel off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Numbering only a few hundred, this subspecies is threatened by predation from introduced boa constrictors and feral dogs, human hunting, forest habitat destruction — and now climate change, which is increasing hurricane risk. Over the past few decades, the frequency of North Atlantic storms and the intensity of the strongest hurricanes have risen in step with warming sea-surface temperatures. Because hurricanes bring the destruction of Cozumel’s forests, a trend toward increasing hurricane activity would significantly increase the curassow’s chances of going extinct.
Desert nesting bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Range: Along Salt and Verde rivers in Arizona
The Southwest’s desert rivers harbor a uniquely adapted population of bald eagles known as desert nesting bald eagles — geographically, behaviorally, and even biologically different from other bald eagles. No other bald eagles nests under conditions of high heat and low humidity or suffers such high mortality. Primarily due to habitat loss, only a few dozen breeding pairs are known to remain on Earth, and global warming is further threatening their survival. Desert nesting bald eagle nestlings are vulnerable to early arrival of high temperatures, with heat stress posing a significant mortality risk. Nestlings may also attempt to fledge early in response to heat stress. Further, climate change is likely to aggravate habitat loss, particularly the loss of large nest trees, through heat stress on the trees, violent storms, and erosion.

In 2008 in response to a Center lawsuit, a federal judge ruled that the Bush administration’s delisting of the desert nesting bald eagle — when it delisted bald eagles nationally — was a violation of the Endangered Species Act.
Emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri)
Range: Coastal Antarctica
The emperor is the only penguin species that breeds during the Antarctic winter, laying eggs and rearing chicks on top of sea ice. The emperor migrates up to 75 miles every mating season, a journey made famous in the documentary March of the Penguins. Warming ocean temperatures and melting sea ice around Antarctica have diminished the emperor’s foods supply of krill, and when sea ice breaks up before the chicks have grown waterproof feathers, they’re often swept into the ocean to die. The March of the Penguins emperor colony has declined by more than half, and scientists predict climate change will push the colony to the brink of extinction this century. Another study concluded that 40 percent of the world’s emperors will be in jeopardy from a further temperature rise of 1.3 degrees Celsius, which the world will exceed before mid-century on our current course.

The Center petitioned to protect 12 of the most imperiled penguin species, but the emperor was denied protection.
Erect-crested penguin (Eudyptes sclateri)
Range: Breeds only on New Zealand’s Bounty and Antipodes island systems
More than half of the world’s 19 penguin species are in danger of extinction, since krill, the keystone of the Antarctic marine food chain, has declined by as much 80 percent since the 1970s over large areas of the Southern Ocean. The chief culprit: global warming. The erect-crested penguin, a penguin from New Zealand that breeds on the Bounty and Antipodes Islands, is one of the most imperiled penguins.

The Center filed a scientific petition to gain Endangered Species Act protection for 12 at-risk penguin species, including the erect-crested. In December 2008, the Service proposed protection for seven species — the erect-crested among them.
Fiordland crested penguin (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus)
Range: West and south coasts of New Zealand’s South Island, on Stewart Island, and on several adjacent offshore islands
The Fiordland crested penguin, also known as “tawaki” in the Maori language, nests in colonies in dense temperate forest in New Zealand. Current population estimates range between 2,500 and 3,000 breeding pairs. Since the late 1980s, the bird is estimated to have declined by around 33 percent. In addition to threats posed by fisheries and introduced predators — including dogs, cats and rats — warming ocean conditions and ocean acidification in the Southern Ocean threaten this penguin’s food supply.

The Center filed a scientific petition in 2006 to gain Endangered Species Act protection for 12 of the most imperiled penguin species. In December 2008, the Service proposed protection for seven species — the Fiordland crested among them.
Galapagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus)
Range: Galapagos Islands
Found only at the Galapagos Islands, the Galapagos penguin is the only penguin to live on the equator and venture into the Northern Hemisphere, making it the northernmost-living penguin species. It’s also the rarest penguin, with an estimated population size of around 1,500 individuals in 2004. The Galápagos penguin mates for life and may breed as many as three times a year, deciding when to breed not by season but rather according to food availability.

Scientists have already observed the impacts of rising ocean temperatures on these unique penguins during El Niño events, which usher in warm waters, resulting in dwindling food supplies. During the powerful El Niño events of 1982–1983 and 1997–1998, hungry penguin parents were forced to abandon their eggs and chicks to search for food, and many chicks starved to death. After these events, Galápagos penguin numbers fell by an alarming 77 percent and 65 percent, respectively.
Golden bowerbird (Prionodura newtoniana)
Range: Highlands of the Wet Tropics of Queensland, Australia
The male golden bowerbird looks every bit as sunny and gleaming as his name implies – but he’s more than just a pretty face. To attract female bowerbirds, males build elaborate bowers – stick-based structures many times the birds’ size – and festoon them with brightly colored objects such as shells, flowers, feathers, and berries. Males prize rare and unusual objects and guard their bowers carefully to prevent competing males from stealing their prized ornaments – and for good reason. Female golden bowerbirds invariably choose males with well-appointed bowers to mate with.

The golden bowerbird prefers the cool mountains of Australia’s Wet Tropics. Rising temperatures and decreasing rainfall would push this bird’s suitable habitat to higher altitudes, forcing it to move upwards. With 3 degrees Celsius of future warming and a 10-percent decline in rainfall, the bowerbird would likely lose 98 percent of its habitat and be left with just two mountaintops. With even more severe warming, its habitat would likely vanish entirely.
Golden-shouldered parrot (Psephotus chrysopterygius)
Range: Cape York Peninsula, Queensland
The golden-shouldered parrot is one of three Psephotus species that nest in termite mounds in northern Australia. Tragically, one of those species is already extinct. After breeding, the golden-shouldered parrot disperses through open woodland, feeding on fire grass seeds until after the first rains, when it switches foods continually. The adult male is mainly blue with a characteristic yellow over the shoulder area, from which this parrot takes its name. Because it rarely uses the same termite mound for breeding more than once and new termite mounds are very slow to build up, nest-site availability is already a limiting factor in the species’ survival.

Increasing temperatures, fires, and droughts in northern Australia’s savanna heighten that threat; meanwhile, increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere favors trees and shrubs, resulting in large-scale loss of the parrot’s grassland habitat.
Gray-headed robin (Heteromyias cinereifrons)
Range: Highlands of the Wet Tropics of Queensland, Australia
The gray-headed robin lacks the bright reds, yellows, and pinks that other Australian robin species display – but its tortoiseshell coloring makes it easy for this songbird to skim, hop, and flit across the ground undetected by both predators and prey as it hunts insects and larvae. More often heard than seen, the bird’s high “whi…whi…whi…whi” call is a familiar sound in the high-altitude rainforests of the Wet Tropics.

Like many other birds found only in the mountains of Australia’s Wet Tropics, the gray-headed robin’s habitat may completely vanish with projected rises in temperatures and declines in rainfall.
Gunnison sage grouse (Centrocercus minimus)
Range: Small, isolated populations centered around the Gunnison Basin in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah
Since the 19th century, only one new avian species has been described from the United States: the Gunnison sage grouse, in 2000. The grouse is a “YouTube” star for its elaborate courtship rituals. Each spring, males congregate and perform a strutting display, and females select the best performer to mate with. Only a few males do most of the breeding. But even though these grouse are declining severely due to habitat loss, they’ve so far been denied the protections of the Endangered Species Act. Because drought conditions result in decreased sage grouse nest success, increased drought severity would likely lower the Gunnison’s success in raising its young. Increasingly warmer and drier climate conditions are predicted to lower sagebrush habitat quality, enhance invasive plant invasions, and alter fire frequency.

The Center is working to reverse politically tainted decisions harming 59 species, including the Gunnison sage grouse, for which we went to court with allies in 2006.
Hawaii a’kepa (Loxops coccineus coccineus)
Range: Hawaii Island
A’kepas are small, active Hawaiian honeycreepers with black wings and black tails that sharply contrast with their bright orange bodies. A’kepas are known for very unusual bills: The lower mandible, bent to one side, is used to open leaf and flower buds. A’kepas are also known for their breeding behavior: Males perform large, group displays, even though these birds are monogamous. Tragically, the Hawaii a’kepa is already extinct on several of the Hawaiian islands. The Maui subspecies is extremely endangered or extinct, and the Oahu subspecies is now extinct.

One of the biggest threats to Hawaii’s amazing native birds is avian malaria. Higher altitudes, where temperate mosquitoes that carry the virus cannot survive, have been an oasis for these birds. But as global warming raises temperatures at higher altitudes, these mosquitoes could devastate A’kepas by spreading the deadly malaria.
Helmeted honeyeater (Lichenostomus melanops cassidix)
Range: Areas near Melbourne, Victoria in Australia
With its vivid yellow hood of feathers and preference for dining on sweet nectar, it’s easy to imagine how the helmeted honeyeater got its name. Preventing this subspecies of yellow-tufted honeyeater from disappearing forever, on the other hand, is proving much harder. It’s endemic to the Australian state of Victoria, which also claims this songbird as its state bird emblem. As recently as 1990, however, Victoria came close to needing a new bird emblem when the helmeted honeyeater population reached a record low of 50 individuals. Since then, thanks to a captive breeding program and stepped-up conservation efforts, helmeted honeyeater numbers have climbed to an estimated 150 individuals in 2009.

The helmeted honeyeater is vulnerable to projected increases in droughts and fires that will damage its habitat. As its home is degraded, the few remaining honeyeaters may also face increased competition with the more aggressive bell miner.
Hooded dotterel (Thinornis rubricollis rubricollis)
Range: Coastal Jervis Bay, New South Wales to Eyre Peninsula, South Australia
Hooded dotterels are most often seen in pairs or small groups, darting, bobbing, and pecking along the shoreline. A medium-sized sandy-brown plover, it’s distinguishable by its black head and white nape, with a red eye-ring and pink legs. Like other plovers, the dotterel nests by excavating a shallow scrape in sand above the high-tide mark on ocean beaches or dunes, sometimes lined with pebbles, seaweed, and other beach debris. Typically, one or two eggs hatch after about 30 days of incubation, and the downy young leave the nest within a day or two. But rising sea levels will have a devastating impact on this critically endangered species, flooding the sandy beaches that support the dotterel’s nesting and feeding and possibly precipitating its extinction.
Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti)
Range: Along coasts of Chile and Peru in the southeastern Pacific Ocean
Named after the cold water current it swims in — which is itself named after explorer Alexander von Humboldt — the Humboldt penguin is also known as the Peruvian penguin or patranca. Humboldt penguins of Peru and Chile have declined from more than a million birds in the 19th century to about 10,000 today. This decline has been caused in part by overfishing of penguin prey, loss of habitat from guano exploitation, and egg and chick predation by introduced species. Now, the warming of the Humboldt Current — the food-rich ocean ecosystem where the Humboldt penguin lives — and the intensification of warm-water El Niño events threaten this bird’s food supply. Humboldt numbers dropped dramatically after the strong 1997-98 El Niño event, and warming ocean temperatures are likely to make future El Niño events stronger.

In response to a Center petition, in December 2008 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed protection for seven species of penguin, including the Humboldt.
Inyo California towhee (Pipilio crissalis eremophilus)
Range: eastern California
Though it doesn’t boast fancy plumage, the grayish-brown, sparrow-like Inyo California towhee is remarkable for its tenacity. Despite the population’s limited range and complete isolation from other towhees, its numbers have gone from about 100 to 700-plus individuals in the past two decades — thanks largely to the Endangered Species Act, under which it was listed as threatened and given critical habitat in 1987. Global warming however threatens to reverse this hopeful story by altering the towhee’s desert habitat. Inyo California towhees nest and forage in areas of dense riparian vegetation. Changes in precipitation including increases in drought conditions combined with human overuse of groundwater threaten its riparian habitat.

In 2001, the Center reached a landmark settlement in which the Bureau of Land Management agreed to mining prohibitions, grazing restrictions, off-road vehicle restrictions, road closures, and other conservation measures to protect towhee habitat.
Ivory gull (Pagophila eburnean)
Range: Arctic, Greenland, northernmost North America, and Eurasia
The ivory gull, named for its completely white plumage, inhabits the remote Arctic Ocean throughout the year, enduring some of the harshest conditions on the planet. It uses sea-ice floes, sea-ice edges, and openings in the sea ice called polynyas as its foraging grounds, and it has been known to follow polar bears and other predators to feed on the remains of their kills. The ivory gull is threatened by contaminants in its food, overhunting in some regions, and now climate change. Already a rare species, ivory gulls have declined by 80 percent in Canada over the past 20 years. Because the ivory gull spends most of its life on sea ice, the rapid loss of sea ice during the Arctic summer threatens this species with further population declines and even extinction.
King penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus)
Range: Oceanic islands in the sub-Antarctic
King penguins are found on sub-Antarctic islands and are frequently misidentified as emperor penguins. The second-largest species of penguin, these birds are colored with a black and white “tuxedo” pattern and have distinct, bright orange ear patches. While populations have recovered from early overexploitation, king penguins now face the ominous threats of climate change and ocean acidification. Scientists studying king penguins in the southern Indian Ocean have found that warm-water conditions impair the survival of adults and their success in rearing young. These researchers have warned that king penguins face a risk of extinction under scenarios of future ocean warming. Moreover, ocean acidification in the Southern Ocean threatens the penguin’s prey species.
Kittlitz’s murrelet (Brachyramphus brevirostris)
Range: Alaska and the Russian Far East
The Kittlitz’s murrelet is a small seabird that nests on open ground near the tops of the rugged coastal mountains of Alaska and Siberia. Also known as “glacier murrelets,” these birds search for food in cloudy coastal waters next to glaciers and glacier outflows during summer, aided by their large eyes. Over the past century, surface temperatures in Alaska have increased twice as much as the global average. In response, Alaska’s coastal glaciers are dramatically retreating and thinning, reducing the Kittlitz’s murrelet’s foraging habitat. With coastal glaciers melting away, Alaska Kittlitz’s murrelet populations have plummeted by 80 to 90 percent in the past 20 years.

In 2001, the Center petitioned to protect the Kittlitz’s murrelet under the Endangered Species Act. In 2004, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed the species on the candidate list, denying it needed protections. The next year, the Center filed suit to force full protection of the Kittlitz’s murrelet and 282 other imperiled candidate species.
Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis)
Range: Breeds on oceanic islands in tropical and subtropical Pacific Ocean, mainly Northwestern Hawaiian Islands; forages in North Pacific Ocean
Laysan albatrosses mate for life and attract their partners in a complex courtship dance complete with sky calling, wing flapping, and bill fencing. This elegantly plumaged albatross was nearly decimated by feather hunters in the early 1900s. Today, major threats come from commercial longline fisheries, which hook and drown thousands of birds each year; contaminated feeding and nesting grounds; and climate change. On Midway Island, up to 10,000 Laysan albatross each year are poisoned when they eat lead-based paint chips that peel off the deteriorating military buildings near their nest sites. Many chicks develop a condition called droopwing, which prevents them from lifting their wings and leads to death by starvation and dehydration. Because most of the world’s Laysan albatrosses nest on the low-lying islands of the Northwestern Hawaiian Island chain, sea-level rise and higher storm surge caused by climate change threaten to drown nests.
Laysan duck (Anas laysanensis)
Range: Laysan and Midway islands in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
Sometimes called the rarest native waterfowl in the United States, the Laysan duck once lived across the entire Hawaiian island archipelago, but today survives on just three isolated islands. This bird’s decline began 1,000 to 1,600 years ago, with the arrival of humans. By 1860, it had disappeared from all but Laysan Island, most likely due to rat predation. Laysan Island gained federal protection in 1909, but introduced rabbits brought the duck to the brink of extinction in 1912, when the species hit an all-time low of seven adults, including a single female. This duck’s low-lying island homes are especially vulnerable to sea-level rise and extreme weather, including severe storms and drought associated with global warming.
Laysan finch (Telespiza cantans)
Range: Laysan Island and Pearl and Hermes Reef in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
Most of the world’s Laysan finches inhabit only one remote, low-lying island in the northwestern Hawaiian island chain — Laysan Island. Introduced rabbits devoured the island’s vegetation, and the Laysan finch plummeted to low numbers until the rabbits died off in 1923. The finch nests in vegetation, laying three eggs in a cup-shaped nest. It’s a generalist feeder, eating seeds, small insects, fruit, and even carrion and the eggs of nesting seabirds. This bird’s highly restricted range and vulnerability to extreme weather have led to its endangered status. The finch’s low-lying island homes are especially vulnerable to sea-level rise and extreme weather associated with climate change.
Least Bell’s vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus)
Range: Santa Barbara and San Diego counties, California
A shy, secretive, and silver-tongued songbird, the tenacious least Bell’s vireo has been to the brink of extinction and back in recent decades. Although it is federally protected and there has been an important surge in the least Bell’s vireo population in Southern California, the bird remains susceptible to habitat destruction from urban development, overgrazing, and electric power lines. And now the bird’s riparian habitat is also threatened by global warming. Perhaps most notably, global warming is altering the snowpack that feeds the rivers in this little bird’s already degraded home.

In response to a Center lawsuit, in spring 2008 the Army Corps of Engineers revoked authorization for the ill-conceived Shadowrock luxury hotel and golf development in important least Bell’s vireo habitat. The Center is also working to stop harmful transmission-line projects from degrading the bird’s habitat and increasing the risk of fire in delicate California ecosystems.
Macaroni penguin (Eudyptes chrysolophus)
Range: From the sub-Arctic to the Antarctic Peninsula
One of six species of crested penguin, the macaroni penguin’s most distinctive feature is its yellow crest. With about 18 million individuals, the macaroni is the most numerous penguin species. But since the mid-1970s, it has suffered widespread declines. Ocean warming and the melting of sea-ice in the Southern Ocean have been linked to large-scale declines in the macaroni penguin’s prey. In the south Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean, krill have declined by 80 percent since the 1970s. Scientists project that a one-degree Celsius rise in sea surface temperature in this region could result in a further 95-percent reduction of krill. In the southern Indian Ocean, a 50-percent decline in the macaroni population on Marion Island has been linked to ocean warming.

The Center filed a scientific petition in 2006 to gain Endangered Species Act protection for 12 of the most imperiled penguin species, including the macaroni. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed protection for seven species, but denied it for three — including the macaroni.
Marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus)
Range: Pacific Coast of North America from the Aleutian Archipelago and southern Alaska to central California
In 1974, the marbled murrelet — the “enigma of the Pacific” — won the distinction of being the last bird species in the United States to have its nesting site discovered. Rather than building a nest, this seabird travels inland as much as 50 miles to lay a single egg high in the old-growth forest canopy, which it depends on for survival. Climate change threatens the murrelet’s terrestrial nesting and marine feeding habitats. Forest growth is expected to decrease over the long term as temperatures increase and trees can no longer benefit from increased winter precipitation and longer growing seasons. Forest ecosystems will also be altered by increases in extreme flooding, landslides, and windthrow events, as well as by changes in fire regimes and drought. The murrelet’s marine habitat is at risk due to global warming’s potential to exacerbate harmful algal blooms, dead zones, and food availability and quality.

In 2008, the Center succeeded in halting a timber-industry attack on the bird’s Endangered Species Act status.ction
Maui parrotbill (Pseudonestor xanthophrys)
Range: Maui
So much of the Maui parrotbill’s habitat has been so destroyed that today it can only be found in 19 square miles of mesic and wet forests at 3,900–7,100 feet on the windward slopes of Haleakala on the island of Maui. The total population of this finch in the honeycreeper family is estimated at just 500, making it critically endangered. It’s named for its distinctive, large beak, which it uses along with its powerful jaw muscles to remove bark and wood from small trees, eating the insects underneath, and to bite open fruits in search of insects.

Mosquitoes spread avian malaria, to which the parrotbill is susceptible. With global warming, temperatures at high elevations will rise, enabling malaria-infected mosquitoes to survive at higher elevations and infect critically endangered native Hawaiian birds like the parrotbill, further jeopardizing their already reduced chance at survival.
Medium tree finch (Camarhynchus pauper)
Range: Floreana Island, Galápagos
One of Charles Darwin’s famous 14 finches — the island-dwelling bird species that helped inspire the theory of evolution — the medium tree finch is found only on Floreana, one of the major islands of the Galápagos archipelago. Historic threats to this finch include habitat destruction and fragmentation, but one of the most pressing threats today is the Philornis downsi, an introduced parasitic fly whose larvae feed on the finch’s nestlings. This bird dwells in moist highland forest habitat in montane evergreen and tropical deciduous forest at elevations above 250 meters on Floreana Island. Because it’s limited to highly fragmented forest patches estimated to cover only 23 square kilometers, the medium tree finch is jeopardized by the upslope shift in its already restricted habitat due to climate change.

Thanks to a Center lawsuit, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to protect the medium tree finch in 2008.
Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida)
Range: From the four-corner states southward into west Texas and Mexico’s Sierra Madres
The spotted owl has long served as a flagship species for environmentalists across the nation, and the Mexican spotted owl is the Southwest’s most famous old-growth resident. Unfortunately, by the late 1980s — at the height of logging in the national forests — biologists estimated that only 2,000 remained. The species’ numbers are still declining as it continues to lose habitat to logging, development, mining, and wildfire. This owl relies on cool, shady habitats that could be altered by climate change for both the owl and the small mammals they prey upon to survive. Spotted owls are believed to be heat intolerant, thus occupying dense forest to avoid high temperatures. Rising temperatures during nesting seasons could be particularly traumatic, as they could lead to nest failure and birds abandoning their territory. Owls that occupy the driest portions of the forest will be threatened first, which could result in higher population fragmentation and genetic isolation.

After multiple Center lawsuits, the Mexican spotted owl’s critical habitat was expanded to more than 8 million acres.
Mono Basin sage grouse (Centrocercus urophaianus)
Range: From Storey County, Nevada to Inyo County, California
Every spring, male sage grouse gather to strut their stuff in riveting mating rituals. But sage grouse “leks,” or mating grounds, are becoming less and less lively as habitat dwindles and numbers decline — especially in the Mono Basin area, where an isolated, genetically distinct population of sage grouse is holding on by a thread. Because drought conditions result in decreased sage grouse nest success, increased drought severity would likely lower this species’ success in raising its young. Increasingly warmer and drier climate conditions are predicted to lower sagebrush habitat quality, enhance invasive plant invasions, and alter fire frequency.

After years of Center litigation, in April 2008 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would consider the bird for Endangered Species Act listing.
Northern rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes moseleyi)
Range: Breeds on Gough Island and Tristan da Cunha in the southern Atlantic Ocean and the St. Paul Islands in the southern Indian Ocean
As their name implies, rockhopper penguins hop instead of waddle, like many penguins. In the rocky areas they inhabit, hopping is a much more efficient way to move around. Despite this adaptation, a study published in 2009 showed that the world population of northern rockhopper penguins had declined by an astounding 90 percent since the 1950s. One of the possible factors in this precipitous decline: warming oceans and ocean acidification, which can lead to less prey in the marine ecosystems the penguin depends on.

The Center filed a scientific petition in 2006 to gain Endangered Species Act protection for 12 of the most imperiled penguin species, including the northern rockhopper. But while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed protection for seven species, it denied it for three — including the northern rockhopper. The Center sued in 2009.
Northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina)
Range: From southwestern British Columbia through the Cascade Mountains, coastal ranges, and intervening forested lands of Washington, Oregon, and California
A popular symbol of the decline of Northwest forests, the medium-sized, chocolaty brown northern spotted owl depends on the old-growth forests that once stretched in an unbroken ribbon from Alaska to California — forests that are now a ghostly memory of their former selves. As an avian icon, curious and vocal, this owl is an excellent indicator of the health of these forests and the hundreds of species that depend on them. But the Pacific Northwest’s spotted owl habitat will be affected by climate change and its accompanying increases in extreme flooding, landslides and windthrow events, and changes in fire regimes and drought.

The Center has defended this owl at every twist and turn, submitting comments in opposition to the Western Oregon Plan Revision and intervening in a timber-industry lawsuit that sought a reduction of the owl’s critical habitat. We also took the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to court over an Oregon Department of Forestry logging plan in the Elliott State Forest, an area that provides crucial habitat for the northern spotted owl.
O`ahu `elepaio (Chasiempis sandwichensis ibidis)
Range: O`ahu, Hawaii
An endangered bird that makes its home on the Hawaiian island of O`ahu, the O`ahu `elepaio was once the most common land bird on the island. The small brown bird, with its perky, streaked tail, favors lush forests with tall canopies. A member of the monarch flycatcher family, the O`ahu elepaio mates for life and remains on the island year-round. Only 1,982 birds are thought to remain, their numbers decimated by mosquito-born diseases, predation by introduced mammals, and habitat loss as O`ahu went from deep forest to tourism capital. Warming ocean currents may precipitate more frequent and severe storms, which can destroy elepaio nests. Rising temperatures from climate change might enable the transmission of pox and malaria at higher elevations, further threatening remaining populations of these and other endangered birds.
Palila (Loxioides bailleui)
Range: Mauna Kea, Hawaii
As early as 1944, scientists believed that the palila was almost extinct The palila is an endangered finch-billed species of Hawaiian honeycreeper that has a close ecological relationship with the māmane tree. It became endangered due to destruction of the trees and accompanying dry forests. Currently, the palila can be found only on the upper slopes of Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii in less than 10 percent of its historical range. Climate change poses a threat to the palila because projected rises in regional temperatures and increased precipitation in high-elevation forests would eliminate important areas of remaining habitat where there’s a low risk of malaria development and transmission. Drought is thought to be contributing to the palila’s recent decline, making increases in extreme events such as drought and storms another danger to the species.
Piping plover (Charadrius melodus)
Range: Atlantic Coast of United States and Canada, Great Lakes
Thanks to their sand-colored plumage and stop-and-go dashes across dunes, piping plovers are usually heard before they’re seen. But their camouflage means they’re vulnerable to off-road vehicles and other threats, which have made them among the rarest shorebirds in North America. Off-road vehicles, which ruin habitat, crush nests and eggs, and directly kill birds. Climate change poses a growing threat to the piping plover. Many plovers nest on the U.S. Atlantic Coast, and all plovers winter along the beaches and dunes of the southern Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean coastlines. Sea-level rise and storm intensification threaten to inundate the piping plover’s coastal breeding and foraging habitat; degrade the quality of habitat for foraging, nesting, and cover; and alter the composition and availability of prey species.

To save piping plovers, the Center has been working hard to keep off-road vehicles out of precious habitat through our Off-road Vehicles campaign. We also filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for inadequately protecting piping plover habitat.
Po-o’uli (Melamprosops phaeosoma) (likely extinct)
Range: Historically found in Hawaii
The probably extinct Po-o’uli, or black-faced honeycreeper, wasn’t discovered until 1973 by students from the University of Hawaii, who found the bird on the northeastern slopes of Haleakala. It was the first species of Hawaiian honeycreeper to be discovered since 1923. The name po-o’uli means “dark head,” referring to the bird’s characteristic feature, a black “bandit” mask. This bird’s dramatic population decline has been attributed to habitat loss; mosquito-borne diseases; predation by pigs, rats, cats, and mongooses; and a decline in the native tree snails that the Po-o’uli relies on for food.
Puaiohi (Myadestes palmeri)
Range: Kauai, Hawaii
The Puaiohi, or small Kauai thrush, is a resident of the remote, high-elevation forest on Kauai. It was first collected in 1891 but was the last of Kauai’s avifauna to be documented by ornithologists in 1980. The 1981 Hawaiian Forest Bird Survey found only 13 individuals; in the following year and again in 1992, hurricanes devastated Kauai’s forest bird populations. The Puaiohi survived but remains vulnerable, with most of the population restricted to two areas totaling 10 square kilometers.

This rare bird faces more than one threat from global warming. Due to rapid climate change, catastrophic weather events such as hurricanes are projected to occur with more frequency and intensity. Particularly for animals confined to a limited range, such weather events can wipe out whole populations or even the entire species. Additionally, mosquitoes that carry the deadly avian malaria to Kauai’s lower-elevation birds, but currently can’t survive in the Puaiohi’s cooler high-elevation habitat, may move to higher elevations as temperatures warm.
Queen Charlotte goshawk (Accipiter gentilis laingi)
Range: Coastal rainforests of Alaska, Queen Charlotte Islands, and Vancouver Island
The Queen Charlotte subspecies of the northern goshawk, with its legendary beauty and flying skill, evolved to live in the lush coastal rainforests of Alaska and the Queen Charlotte and Vancouver islands. With climate change, warmer-adapted tree species such as Douglas fir may expand northward into the Queen Charlotte’s range and may increase competition with northern goshawks.

The Center’s efforts to save this goshawk have proven instrumental in protecting vast swatches of Alaskan Tongass wilderness, despite administrative posturing that has prevented the goshawk from being granted Endangered Species Act protection within its entire natural range. Besides petitioning to protect the bird federally, the Center has challenged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s repeated refusals to list the bird in its U.S. range. Thanks to our work, its Canada populations are protected.
Red-breasted goose (Branta ruficollis)
Range: Arctic Europe
A strikingly colored bird, the red-breasted goose nests on the tundra in Arctic Europe and winters in southeastern Europe. The red-breasted goose has developed an ingenious method for protecting its young — it nests close to large birds of prey, which discourages other terrestrial predators from preying on the goose. Already found in relatively modest numbers, populations have been declining quickly in recent years without a clear cause.

Migratory birds like the red-breasted goose are vulnerable to climate change threats on their breeding and wintering grounds. This globally vulnerable goose is projected to lose 67 percent of its tundra breeding habitat with a moderate temperature increase of 1.7 degrees Celsius, and it could lose 99 percent of its habitat with a more extreme rise of 5 degrees Celsius.
Resplendent quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno)
Range: Central America, from southern Mexico to Panama With its spectacular green and red plumage and long, flowing tail, the resplendent quetzal was considered sacred by ancient Mayan civilizations. Today the quetzal is restricted to small, remnant cloud-forest patches in Central America due to habitat destruction from cattle ranching and agricultural land clearing. And climate change is putting extra stress on cloud-forest species like the quetzal. Drier conditions and prolonged drought due to global warming have been linked to recent declines in cloud-forest plants, while lower-elevation species like the keel-billed toucan have been moving upward into high-elevation cloud forests, with the potential to displace the quetzal.
Rota bridled white-eye (Zosterops rotensis)
Range: Sabana region of Rota, an island in the western Pacific
With the most recent population counts estimating only a 1,000 remaining Rota bridled white-eyes, this small, forest-dwelling songbird native to Rota is one catastrophic event away from extinction. A rise in severe storms in the Pacific due to climate change increases the likelihood of such catastrophes. Typhoons can cause the loss of white-eye nests, eggs, and nestlings from exposure to high winds and heavy rain. These storms also affect the white-eye through loss of food, temporary loss of cover leading to increased predation, and long-term changes in habitat suitability. Given these impacts, an increase in severe storms caused by climate change threatens the bird’s future.

After the Center sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to earn critical habitat for the Rota bridled white-eye, in September 2006 the Service granted the bird 3,958 protected acres in Rota. In October 2007, the Service also developed a recovery plan that will go a long way toward helping the rare, beautiful bird recuperate.
Royal penguin (Eudyptes schlegeli)
Range: Breeds on Australia’s Macquarie Island and nearby Bishop and Clerk islands
Royal penguins are very similar to the macaroni penguin in appearance, with the most notable differences being that they’re larger and have white chin feathers rather than black. The royal breeds on only one main sub-Antarctic island, and while it currently enjoys high population numbers, it’s still threatened by climate change. In addition to threats posed by competition with fisheries, warming ocean conditions and ocean acidification in the Southern Ocean threaten this penguin’s food supply.

The Center petitioned for the royal penguin to be listed under the Endangered Species Act as threatened by climate change, and while the listing was ultimately denied, we continue to advocate for this and all penguins threatened by climate change and ocean acidification.
Short-tailed albatross (Phoebastria albatrus)
Range: Nest on Torishima and Minami-kojima in Japan’s Senkaku Islands; range across North in nonbreeding season
The short-tailed albatross was possibly once the most abundant of the three North Pacific albatrosses. Millions of these seabirds were killed for their feathers and eggs until they disappeared completely from their breeding islands and were thought to be extinct in 1949. However, a few birds survived at sea, and thanks to protections, there are about 2,000 today. The future of this species is still precarious, since the majority of the world’s population nests on an active volcano — Torishima Island — and birds face drowning in longline fisheries at sea.

Climate change poses additional challenges. The warming of the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea may reduce its food availability. An increase in the frequency or severity of typhoons threatens its ability to raise its chicks. Short-tailed albatross breeding success is low in years with large typhoons because heavy rains falling on the steep volcanic slopes where the birds nest cause mud slides that destroy nests and kill chicks.
Snares crested penguin (Eudyptes robustus)
Range: New Zealand’s Snares Islands
Similar in appearance to other crested penguins, the Snares crested is unique in that it breeds only on New Zealand’s Snares Islands. In addition to threats posed by competition with fisheries and oil spills, warming ocean conditions and ocean acidification in the Southern Ocean threaten this penguin’s food supply.

The Center petitioned to protect 12 warming-threatened penguins, including the Snares crested, under the Endangered Species Act in 2006, filing suit in 2007. Though the Snares crested was denied endangered status, we’ve continued to advocate for the penguin by working to stem climate change and ocean acidification.
Snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus)
Range: Arctic regions of both the old and new worlds
The snowy owl was first classified as a species in 1758. This large, white-feathered tundra dweller relies primarily on lemmings for food, but will take advantage of larger prey, including rabbits and foxes. It can eat more than 1,600 lemmings per year. The snowy owl is an extremely important component of the food web in the tundra ecosystem. Already, climate change may be threatening the snowy owl's primary prey — the lemming. In Norway, changes in temperature and humidity affecting snowpack may have interrupted the regular boom-and-bust cycle of lemming populations, making this food source less predictable for the owls. In addition, researchers have recently discovered that snowy owls may use Arctic sea-ice habitat extensively in winter for hunting sea ducks. The melting of the sea ice may impact the owl’s ability to hunt in winter.
Southern rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome)
Range: Southern Ocean Islands
The quintessential crested penguin, the southern rockhopper penguin was originally named for its propensity for jumping over obstacles. Like all penguins, the southern rockhopper faces a dire and immediate threat in the form of climate change. Scientists have linked increases in ocean temperature with large-scale declines in southern rockhopper penguin populations: an 80-percent decline on the Falkland Islands, a 60-percent decline on Marion Island, and 50- to 94-percent declines on three islands off New Zealand. The continued warming and acidification of the Southern Ocean inhabited by the southern rockhopper penguin threaten to diminish its food supply, posing a profound threat to this species’ survival.

The Center was able to secure Endangered Species Act protection for several populations of the southern rockhopper after we filed a petition seeking to list 12 penguin species as imperiled by climate change. We’re now seeking protections for the remaining southern rockhopper populations.
Southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus)
Range: Breeds in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah; winters from southern Mexico to northern South America
The southwestern willow flycatcher enjoys the distinction of being one of the few songbirds born with an innate, not learned, repertoire of songs. Unfortunately, despite more than a decade of federal protection, this species is still direly imperiled by habitat destruction and global warming. The flycatcher’s breeding habitat is intimately linked with water. It nests in dense riparian habitats along rivers, streams, or other wetlands where the water table is high enough to support riparian vegetation. Thus, decreases in precipitation that threaten riparian habitats also threaten this species.

The flycatcher was one of the first species the Center championed. After a Center petition and years of litigation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the flycatcher endangered in 1995. After the flycatcher’s critical habitat was slashed due to a politically motivated decision, in 2008 we sued the Bush administration to force it to restore the habitat protections the flycatcher needs. In 2009, we went to court again over a plan allowing an imported beetle to hurt flycatcher habitat.
Spectacled eider (Somateria fischeri)
Range: The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and Alaska’s North Slope, as well as eastern coastal Russia and the Bering Sea
A large, Arctic sea duck, the spectacled eider is aptly named — feathers around a breeding male’s eyes change from pale green to bright orange, creating a noticeable set of “goggles.” This bird winters in openings in the sea ice in a small region of the Bering Sea, diving deeply to capture clams at the ocean bottom. Decreasing sea-ice cover in the Bering Sea has reduced the abundance of the eiders’ bottom-dwelling prey. Melting sea ice also has increased prospects for the expansion of bottom trawling and oil exploration in the Bering Sea, which would further deplete the eider’s food and pose oil spill risks. On the eider’s tundra breeding grounds, melting permafrost — the frozen layer of ground that prevents water from draining — may result in the drying of wetlands and the transformation of tundra to shrublands and forests.

Thanks to work by the Center, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated 25 million acres for this imperiled sea duck. We’ve also helped protect the eider’s pristine Arctic environment from oil and gas drilling.
Spoon-billed sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus)
Range: Breeds in northeastern Russia and winters in southeast Asia
The most distinctive feature of this species is its spoon-like bill, which it uses in a side-to-side movement for feeding. But that distinctive feature may not be around much longer. This bird was first described in 1758 but today it is critically endangered, with a current population of fewer than 2,500 — and possibly fewer than 1,000 — adults. The display flight of the male includes brief hovers, circling, and rapid diving while singing. The spoon-billed sandpiper's breeding habitat is sea coasts and adjacent hinterland on the Chukchi peninsula and southward along the isthmus of the Kamchatka peninsula.

Warming temperatures from climate change threaten to drastically reduce this sandpiper’s tundra breeding grounds, while sea-level rise may affect the sandpiper’s tidal flat habitat on its migratory and wintering range. The spoon-billed sandpiper is projected to lose 56 percent of its Arctic tundra breeding grounds with warming of 1.7 degrees Celsius, which would displace more than 1,300 of the current breeding birds.
Steller's eider (Polysticta stelleri)
Range: Eastern coastal Russia, Alaska, and the Bering Sea
The Steller’s eider is well prepared for life in the Arctic; it’s insulated with body fat and dense plumage to allow for migration along frigid coastlines each season. In the eider’s wintering grounds in the Bering Sea, decreasing sea-ice cover has reduced the abundance of the bird’s bottom-dwelling prey. Melting sea ice has also increased prospects for the expansion of bottom trawling and oil exploration in the Bering Sea, which would further deplete the eider’s food and pose oil spill risks. On the eider’s tundra breeding grounds, melting permafrost — the frozen layer of ground that prevents water from draining — may result in the drying of wetlands and the transformation of tundra to shrublands and forests.

The Center has a long history of protecting the Steller’s eider, with our most recent work focusing on keeping Big Oil out of its few remaining pristine habitats. In 2006, we blocked oil leasing in important eider habitat, and the next year, we successfully interrupted plans by Shell Oil to begin exploration near the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor)
Range: California, infrequently in Oregon, Nevada, and Washington
The tricolored blackbird forms the largest breeding colonies of any North American land bird, with each colony numbering in the tens of thousands. It prefers wetland and grassland habitats and selectively nests in native emergent marshes, agricultural fields, and other flooded and upland habitats. Decreases in rainfall threaten to further reduce the wetland areas the blackbird relies on for nesting.

The Center petitioned to list the tricolored blackbird in 2004. After we sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remind it of its obligations, in late 2006 the agency completed its review of the listing petition — only to declare it inadequate in showing the bird’s need for federal protection. The Center continues to advocate for the protection of both the tricolored blackbird and its habitat.
Western gull-billed tern (Gelochelidon nilotica vanrossemi)
Range: Pacific Coast and lower Colorado delta region of Southern California and Mexico
The western gull-billed tern is a misunderstood predator whose population is perilously low, a result of constant assault from habitat destruction and poor management policies. Global climate change threatens the western gull-billed terns in several ways: loss of its coastal habitat due to sea-level rise and higher storm surges, increased storm frequency, and decreased prey availability due to rising ocean temperatures.

We recently filed suit to get gull-billed tern listed as a protected species, and in the process stopped a U.S. Fish and Wildlife plan to destroy gull-billed tern eggs.
Western snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus)
Range: Washington, Oregon, California, and Mexico
A small, unobtrusive bird, the western snowy plover is a year-round beach citizen and an integral part of the Pacific beach ecosystem. Heedless of this shy, pocket-sized shorebird, developers have made the open sandy beaches it favors a prime target for destructive projects; also, people’s beach activity often scares plovers away from their nests, leaving chicks and eggs vulnerable to both predators and the elements. Now, sea-level rise and increased storm surge events threaten to inundate the plover’s coastal breeding and foraging habitat; degrade the quality of habitat for foraging, nesting, and cover; and alter the types and availability of prey species.

In October 2008, the Center sued the Department of the Interior to force it to grant the plover the critical habitat it needs. We’ve also worked against plover-killing off-road vehicle use, pushed for oil-drilling restrictions in key habitat, petitioned for dog-leash laws in the bird’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area home, and published a report detailing the devastating effects of pesticide use on plovers.
White-flippered penguin (Eudyptula albosignata albosignata)
Range: New Zealand
The white-flippered penguin is the only known nocturnal penguin. Like most penguins, this species has specific climate and habitat needs that are in jeopardy because of climate change. Rising sea waters and temperatures, combined with climate change-related food shortages, pose serious threats to this little penguin’s continued survival.

After the Center petitioned for 12 of the world’s most imperiled penguin species, the National Marine Fisheries Service declared that six of them — including the white-flippered penguin — deserved Endangered Species Act listing.
White-tailed ptarmigan (Lagopus leucura)
Range: Alpine regions from Alaska to New Mexico
The white-tailed ptarmigan is the smallest bird in the grouse family and the only bird in the alpine zone to remain there during winter instead of migrating. It has feathers around its nostrils, so the air it inhales is warmed before reaching its body. In winter, this bird is pure white except for a black beak and eyes, and its white feathers help camouflage it. In summer, it has a mottled and barred brown head, breast, and back with white wings, belly, and tail. Because white-tailed ptarmigan occupy patchy high-elevation alpine tundra habitats, rising temperatures may compress and fragment their alpine habitat as forested habitats move upward in elevation. Scientists have found that the growth of ptarmigan populations in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado has decreased as winter minimum temperatures have increased, and that future warming is likely to accelerate declines in ptarmigan abundance.
Whooping crane (Grus americana)
Range: Only known remaining nesting location at Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta, Canada; breeding populations migrate south to winter along the Gulf Coast of Texas
The tallest North American bird, the whooping crane is also one of the rarest, largely thanks to habitat loss. One effort to save this amazing bird attempted to establish a new flyway by training young whooping cranes to follow ultralight aircraft. At one time, the range for these birds extended throughout the Midwest, but in 1941, the wild population consisted of just 21 birds. In early 2007, a disastrous storm killed all of the 2006 yearlings after their arrival in Florida. With global warming, the potential for these types of catastrophic events increases. What’s more, changes in precipitation that shrink the inland wetlands of the crane’s breeding ground would reduce the availability of quality nesting sites, reduce food availability, and allow predators to access nests and young. On the bird’s wintering grounds along the Texas coast, sea-level rise combined with land subsidence would reduce the suitability of salt marsh and open water areas for the cranes.

In 2009, the Center worked with local environmentalists in Nebraska to convince a utility to relocate a proposed wind tower outside the crane’s flyway.
Xantus's murrelet (Synthliboramphus hypoleucus)
Range: Southern California coast to central Baja California, Mexico
Xantus’s murrelet is one of the rarest seabirds in the world, restricted to a handful of nesting islands off Southern California and Baja California. The introduction of nonnative predators to its island breeding homes decimated many populations. Increasing ocean temperatures, more intense El Niño events, and ocean acidification in the California Current marine ecosystem, which the murrelet calls home, threaten the food web the species depends on.

The Center was part of a coalition that successfully prevented a Chevron liquid natural gas terminal from opening near critical Xantus’s murrelet breeding grounds in Mexico.
Yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus)
Range: Southern Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas; western yellow-billed cuckoo found west of mountain ranges forming eastern edge of the Rio Grande watershed
The yellow-billed cuckoo is a rare bird that has been almost entirely eradicated west of the Continental Divide. With as few as 40 breeding pairs remaining in California, the species is dangerously close to extinction. Climate change could well be the catalyst that pushes the yellow-billed cuckoo into oblivion. Western yellow-billed cuckoos require large patches (ideally 25 to 100 acres) of streamside willows and cottonwoods. Decreases in precipitation that threaten riparian habitats also threaten this species.

In 1998, the Center filed a scientific petition to earn endangered species protection for the cuckoo, which helped fund research into the genetic characteristics of the species — ultimately leading to a Fish and Wildlife Service determination that western cuckoos should be treated as a “distinct population segment.” In 2000, the Center and allies filed a suit to force a listing decision, and the next year the Service determined the cuckoo’s listing was “warranted but precluded” — meaning the bird’s federal protection would be put off.
Yellow-billed loon (Gavia adamsii)
Range: Northern Alaska, Canada, and Eurasia in summer; British Columbia to Baja, around Scandinavia, and along the Pacific coast of Siberia in winter
Ungainly on land, the yellow-billed loon moves with grace and ease through the water, diving in an instant with its large feet propelling it toward the lakebed in search of fish. An inhabitant of remote Arctic reaches, the yellow-billed loon nests in tundra wetlands in Alaska, Canada, and Russia. Already confronted with oil and gas drilling in its once isolated home, the yellow-billed loon now must also contend with climate change. The loon is threatened by flooding of its low-lying coastal wetland habitat in the face of warming temperatures and sea-level rise. Shorelines held up by permafrost are beginning to subside as permafrost melts, allowing the influx of salty ocean water into Arctic coastal wetlands and destroying the loon’s nesting areas.

The Center and allies petitioned to protect the loon under the Endangered Species Act. The yellow-billed loon was only made a “candidate” for protection.
Yellow-eyed penguin (Megadyptes antipodes)
Range: New Zealand
The yellow-eyed penguin is native to New Zealand and is considered one of the rarest of the world’s penguins, with fewer than 4,000 individuals estimated to remain. Despite living in a habitat that’s usually devoid of snow and ice, yellow-eyed penguins are very sensitive to temperature changes and have specific climate requirements. Reduced prey availability due to warming ocean temperatures and ocean acidification in the Southern Ocean may further jeopardize this species.

The yellow-eyed penguin was proposed for federal protection in 2008 thanks to a Center petition and lawsuit, with climate change listed as one of the primary threats to the bird’s continued survival.