Home
Donate Sign up for e-network
CENTER for BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY Because life is good
ABOUT ACTION PROGRAMS SPECIES NEWSROOM PUBLICATIONS SUPPORT

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

350 home Browse by region Browse by taxon Browse alphabetically Take action

 

GULF COAST SPECIES THAT NEED US TO GET TO 350 Photo credits
Alabama beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus ammobates)
Range: portion of Alabama gulf coast
This small, sandy-colored mouse lives only in coastal sand- dune areas and contributes to its coastal dune ecosystem by collecting and distributing seeds. Primarily active at night, beach mice prefer sand-covered slopes with patches of sea oats, beach grass, and other grasses and herbs. Coastal development and roadway construction have placed this mouse on the endangered list, while hurricanes, tropical storms, and dune use by humans bring additional harmscasualties. Because beach mice live only in the dunes just above the high-tide line, rising waters, stronger hurricanes, and increasing storm surges caused by climate change jeopardize this coastal mouse and its habitat.
Arkansas River shiner (Notropis girardi)
Range: New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas
The tiny, shiny Arkansas River shiner requires at least 80 miles of river to complete its life cycle — and has disappeared from more than 80 percent of its historical habitat. Besides habitat destruction, water-quality degradation, and other threats, this finger-sized fish is threatened by drought and increased water temperatures driven by global warming.

A Center lawsuit earned this fish a place on the threatened species list in 1998; more Center legal action led to the designation of 1,148 river miles of protected critical habitat for the species in 2005. When that protected habitat was cut in half, we sued again in January 2009 to make sure the shiner has enough protected area to survive and recover.
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.
Barton Springs salamander (Eurycea sosorum)
Range: Four spring outlets from Barton Springs in Austin, Texas
Every year, more than 340,000 people visit the Barton Springs swimming hole in Austin, Texas. Few swimmers realize they’re taking a dip in the home of one of North America’s most endangered species — the Barton Springs salamander. The number of Barton Springs salamanders dropped between the 1970s, when hundreds of salamanders were seen, and 1992, when only a handful could be located, and numbers have fluctuated since then. Increasing drought conditions in the southwest due to climate change threaten to dry up the spring-fed Barton Creek pool, jeopardizing the existence of the salamander. A severe, ongoing Texas drought that began in 2007 has dramatically slowed spring flow into the pool, lowering dissolved oxygen that the gilled creatures need. As the spring dries up, salamander numbers have plummeted.

Following lawsuits by the Center and Austin environmental group Save Our Springs Alliance, the Environmental Protection Agency agreed to perform consultations regarding pesticide impacts on the salamander for six pesticides, including atrazine.
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.
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.
Cagle’s map turtle (Graptemys caglei)
Range: Endemic to Guadalupe, San Antonio, and San Marcos rivers in Texas
The Cagle's map turtle is a rare riverine turtle that survives only in the muddy waters of the Guadalupe River system in Texas. This turtle’s green-tinted shell is decorated with intricate, swirling markings and serrated edges at the rear. Sex determination of developing turtles is temperature-dependent, with high incubation temperatures producing only females and low temperatures producing only males. Thus, warming temperatures from climate change threaten to disrupt the turtle’s gender balance.

In 2004, the Center petitioned to list the Cagle’s map turtle, which was placed on the federal candidate list in 1977 but is still without federal protection. In 2007, our allies petitioned the state of Texas to ban all commercial harvest of freshwater turtles. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department voted to end commercial harvest in public waters but continued to allow unlimited commercial harvest of seven species from private waters.
Comal Springs dryopid beetle (Stygoparnus comalensis)
Range: Comal Springs and Fern Bank Springs in Hays County, Texas
Though the Comal Springs dryopid beetle is aquatic, it doesn’t swim, and while it has eyes, it can’t see. This small brown beetle lives in the subterranean darkness of the spring outlets and air-filled cavities associated with just two springs in central Texas, and it relies on a steady, natural spring flow for all aspects of its life history. If global warming dries up those springs while humans keep pumping vast amounts of water from the aquifer that feeds the springs, this tiny underground bug with its apparent evolutionary contradictions could be left high and dry.

The Center sued to protect the invertebrate’s home, and in 2007, critical habitat was designated — but not nearly enough. So in 2009, we filed suit again to gain adequate critical habitat for the beetle.
Devils River minnow (Dionda diaboli)
Range: Middle Devils River, Pinto Creek, and San Felipe Creek tributaries to the Rio Grande; may also inhabit the Río Salado in Chihuahua, Mexico
In just about 50 years, the Devils River minnow has gone from being one of the most abundant native fishes in southern Texas to one of the rarest fishes in the world. Requiring clean spring waters for survival, populations of this tiny, shiny minnow have declined drastically as stream modifications and pollution have increased. Sadly, the fish has even been eliminated from the upper and lower portions of its namesake — the Devils River. The Devils River minnow is part of a unique fish fauna in the area where the Chihuahuan Desert, Edwards Plateau, and South Brush Texas ecosystems join. Increasing drought conditions in the Southwest due to climate change threaten to dry up the spring waters that the minnow relies upon.

The Center, Forest Guardians, and Save Our Springs Alliance filed a lawsuit against the Service to challenge the minnow's lack of designated critical habitat, as well the fact that it has been granted only threatened — rather than endangered — status.
Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostrus)
Range: Florida
Manatees, sometimes referred to as sea cows, are large, aquatic marine mammals related to elephants that spend much of their time resting and gently grazing on seagrasses and other vegetation in warm, shallow waters. The population of manatees in Florida is thought to be between 1,000 and 3,000, and they’ve been known to live up to 60 years. The leading cause of death is boat strikes, which kill manatees and leave propeller wounds on the survivors. The number of manatee deaths in Florida caused by humans has been increasing, and now typically accounts for 20 to 40 percent of recorded deaths. Sea-level rise and changes in water flow that increase water turbidity threaten the manatee’s main food source of seagrasses that grow in shallow, relatively clear waters. Hurricane intensity and storm surge will increase with climate change, which may directly kill manatees or impact their food supply, leading to impaired manatee health and reproduction.

In response to a petition by the Center and allies, in 2009 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed that new habitat protections may be warranted for the manatee.
Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi)
Range: Primarily a 3,548-square-mile area in south Florida’s Everglades region, with some panthers sited in various Florida counties north of the Caloosahatchee River
A reserved, stealthy predator of enormous physical grace and power, the Florida panther is one of the most majestic large felines in the wild, and tragically, it’s the only large feline remaining in the Southeast. Once found throughout the southeast United States, the Florida panther now occupies only about 5 percent of its former range, and it numbers just 100 to 120 individual cats. By far the greatest threats to Florida panthers are habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation — all driven by Florida’s burgeoning human population and the developments and highways that accommodate it. Sea-level rise, estimated to reach 1 meter or more by 2100, will inundate and eliminate a large portion of the panther’s remaining habitat in Florida’s low-lying Everglades.

The Center petitioned for the protection of roughly 3 million acres of critical habitat for the panther in September 2009.
Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
Range: Tropical reefs of the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans
The critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle is the only species in its genus. Its distinguishing feature: the sharp, curving, beak-like mouth from which it gets its common name. Its chosen prey includes sea sponges, which are highly toxic and can be lethal when eaten by other creatures — but not for the hawksbill. Human fishing practices and the use of hawskbill shells for tortoiseshell trinkets have resulted in the hawksbill facing the possibility of extinction. Global warming threatens the hawksbill in several ways: Rising sea levels may inundate nesting beaches; increased sand temperatures can lead to changes in the sex ratio of hatchling turtles; warming ocean temperatures are leading to mass coral bleaching, damaging reef habitats where turtles feed; and changes in ocean current can alter turtle migrations paths and feeding patterns.

The Center works hard to stop longline fishing practices that ensnare the hawksbill and other sea turtles.
Human being (Homo sapiens)
Range: Global
Homo sapiens, the Latin name for the modern human species, means “wise man.” Modern humans evolved in east Africa about 200,000 years ago. As of 2009, there are more than 6.8 billion of us on Earth. Humans have a highly developed brain, capable of abstract reasoning, language, introspection and problem solving, but can they put these qualities to use when it comes to the man-made challenge posed by global warming?

Health and climate scientists believe that global warming is already responsible for some 150,000 deaths each year, and they fear that the number may well double by 2030. Global warming also contributes to some 5 million human illnesses every year. Some of the ways global warming negatively affects human health — especially in poorer nations — include: speeding the spread of infectious diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever; creating conditions that lead to potentially fatal malnutrition and diarrhea; and increasing the frequency and severity of heat waves, floods, and other weather-related disasters. Studies have also found a direct link between rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and increased human mortality. Added air pollution caused by each degree Celsius increase in temperature caused by CO2 leads to about 1,000 additional deaths in the United States and many more cases of respiratory illness and asthma.
Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis)
Range: Midwestern, southern, and eastern United States, from the Ozarks to Vermont and from northern Florida to southern Wisconsin
The Indiana bat is one of the rarest and most vulnerable of its kind. Every year, Indiana bats gather in “swarms” at chosen hibernating spots to mate, swooping in and out of caves from dusk till dawn. The species’ long-term decline began in the early 1800s as its wintering sites or “hibernacula” were disturbed by mining, tourism, and other activities. In the decades since, these bats have been hit hard by habitat loss — and in 2007 a perplexing and deadly new threat to bats, called white-nose syndrome, first appeared in the Northeast and began killing hundreds of thousands of the animals, including Indiana bats. Global warming could boost temperatures inside the limestone caves these bats use for roosting, contributing to winter weight loss and higher mortality rates for the bats.

After a January 2008 Center petition, the Forest Service closed all caves and abandoned mines in 33 eastern and southern states to help stop the spread of white-nose syndrome and protect endangered bats, including the Indiana bats.
Jaguar (Panthera onca)
Range: North from Argentina to the U.S.-Mexico borderlands
Revered as deities amongst the Mayan and Aztec peoples, jaguars once roamed from South America through the southern and central United States. But they were reduced through Spanish bounties and fur hunting, and the last U.S. animals were systematically hunted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the 20th century, only to reappear sporadically through migration from Mexico. As global climate trends move toward hotter, drier environments, jaguars’ recovery in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands may become even more important to the survival of the whole species as climate change pushes the animals northward.

The Center sued three times to obtain a recovery plan and critical habitat designation for the jaguar; has defended it from government traps, snares, and poisons; and opposed walling off the U.S.-Mexico border to ensure that jaguars have access to the full extent of their range. In March 2009, a judge struck down the Fish and Wildlife Service’s refusal to grant the jaguar a recovery plan and protected habitat.
Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii)
Range: Western Atlantic seaboard from Florida to New England; Gulf of Mexico
The critically endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle is the smallest and rarest sea turtle. In 1947, there were an estimated 89,000 nesting females, but by the mid-1980s, that number had plummeted to an estimated 1,000. One of the biggest threats to the species has been shrimp trawling, which entangles and drowns the turtles. Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles change color with development. As hatchlings, they’re almost entirely a dark gray, but adults have a yellow-green or white undershell and a gray-green upper shell. Sea-level rise may inundate nesting beaches for the Kemp’s Ridley; increased sand temperatures can lead to changes in the sex ratio of hatchling turtles; and changes in ocean current can alter turtle migrations paths and feeding patterns.

The Center has waged a long battle to curtail fishing practices such as longlining and trawling that threaten the Kemp’s Ridley.
Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta)
Range: Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans
Loggerhead sea turtles make some of the longest known journeys of any sea turtle species, each year migrating more than 7,500 miles between nesting beaches in Japan and feeding grounds off the coast of Mexico. Along the way, they must navigate past millions of longline hooks, which catch and kill thousands of sea turtles, seabirds, marine mammals, and sharks. Gillnet fisheries likewise entangle and drown many loggerheads. Making matters much worse, rising sea levels due to global warming threaten to destroy Florida’s nesting beaches, and rising temperatures could dramatically tilt the balance of male and female turtles being hatched, endangering the species’ reproductive abilities. This is because turtles’ gender is determined by temperature; in warmer weather, there are fewer males born, and with a temperature just two degrees higher than 29 degrees Celsius, almost all hatchlings are females.

The Center has repeatedly litigated to curtail commercial fishing practices harming the loggerhead. Following one lawsuit, longline fishing for swordfish was prohibited along the West Coast. In 2007, we petitioned to list North Pacific loggerhead sea turtles as endangered, as well as to increase protections in key nesting habitat.
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.
Mississippi gopher frog (Rana capito sevosa)
Range: Glen’s Pond, Mike’s Pond, and McCoy’s Pond in eastern Mississippi
Mississippi gopher frogs spend most of their lives underground, in burrows created by gopher tortoises — hence their name — and other animals. In the winter, they migrate to temporary ponds to breed, and after breeding, they migrate back to the forested, longleaf-pine uplands. But 98 percent of America’s native longleaf-pine forest has now been destroyed, and fire suppression, drought, pesticides, urban sprawl, highway construction, and the decline of gopher tortoises have made this frog so rare it now lives in only three small Mississippi ponds. Climate change may impact this frog through changes in rainfall affecting its remaining ponds.

In 2002, the Mississippi gopher frog was listed as an endangered species as a result of a Center lawsuit.
Oyster mussel (Epioblasma capsaeformis)
Range: United States
You’ve heard of oysters. You’ve heard of mussels. Now allow us to introduce the oyster mussel, a freshwater bivalve mollusk found in rivers all over the United States. The IUCN Red List of Endangered Species lists the oyster mussel as critically endangered. Pesticide contamination of rivers and habitat loss have brought this species to the brink of extinction. Increasing drought conditions due to climate change, made worse by water withdrawals, threaten water flow in the oyster mussel’s remaining river habitat.
Peck’s Cave Amphipod (Stygobromus pecki)
Range: Edwards Aquifer in Central Texas
This elusive, hardy, and tiny crustacean may not be as glamorous as a polar bear or an orca, but it deserves just as much of a chance. Known to exist in only two springs of the central Texas Edward’s Aquifer, this amphipod, along with several of its close relatives, have contended with manmade environmental destruction for years. Now climate change threatens to tip the scales irrevocably. The main threat to the survival of the Peck’s cave amphipod is decreased spring flow due to increased use of groundwater resources throughout the Edwards Aquifer region, which may prove fatal to the species when coupled with increased drought.

The Center has been instrumental in saving several Edward’s Aquifer residents, including this particular amphipod, by suing to force federal officials to designate critical habitat.
Perdido Key beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus trissyllepsis)
The Perdido Key beach mouse, listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, has a small body, hairy tail, large ears, and protuberant eyes. A nocturnal herbivore, it lives in the dunes that are located just above the high-tide line, feeding primarily on the seeds of sea oats and beach grass — and sometimes invertebrates. A variety of animals live with beach mice in these dune habitats, including the six-lined racer, monarch butterflies, snowy plovers, and coachwhip snakes. Global warming’s rising waters and increasing storm surges threaten the beach mouse because they live only in dune habitats. These mice are at high risk of extinction if their habitat is destroyed.
Description

In 2003, the Center and Sierra Club filed suit to increase federal protection for the Perdido Key beach mouse’s coastal habitat.
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.
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.
Three-toed box turtle (Terrapene carolina triunguis)
Range: South-central United States
Three-toed box turtles are the state reptile of Missouri and have long been kept as pets. These turtles are recognizable for their highly domed shell and three-toed back feet (hence their name). In the wild, these box turtles are threatened by global warming as environmental changes threaten to dramatically alter the forests, marshes, and humid grasslands they call home. Sex determination of developing turtles is temperature dependent, and warming temperatures from climate change threaten to disrupt the turtle’s gender balance. One study has found that under future climate conditions, three-toed box turtles might experience precariously low growth rates as smaller individuals produce fewer eggs.

In 2009 the Center, along with local groups from each state, petitioned wildlife and health agencies in Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee for a ban on commercial harvest of freshwater turtles.
Topeka shiner (Notropis girardi)
Range: Mississippi and Missouri river basins
A minnow that lives up to its name, the Topeka shiner is easily recognized by its bright silver scales and distinctly orange or yellow fins during breeding season. The shiner now inhabits less than 10 percent of its former range, a fact that does not bode well for it or stream health in general. The Topeka shiner needs small prairie streams with good water quality and cool temperatures. Changes in water flow and rising stream temperatures, which can be affected by climate change, threaten to make its habitat less livable.

The diminutive Topeka shiner was part of the biggest Endangered Species Act lawsuit in U.S. history when the Center and Fund for Animals sued for the protection of about 500 imperiled species in 1992. After that, a Center suit earned the species critical habitat — but not enough was designated. In 2007, we filed a notice of intent to sue to win the fish more critical habitat.
Vermilion darter (Etheostoma chermocki)
Range: Jefferson County, Alabama
With its bright, fluorescent patterns, the vermilion darter is a colorful part of the Alabama ecosystem. Unfortunately, this handsome fish is now only found in a single drainage and is teetering on the verge of extinction, with climate change being a critical threat. The vermilion darter needs streams with particular conditions — clean, clear-flowing water with gravel riffles and moderate currents. Changes in precipitation and stream flows, including increases in flooding events, threaten to alter the stream conditions the darter needs.

Thanks to a lawsuit by the Center and allies, the vermilion darter was listed as endangered in 2001. In late 2007, we filed suit to earn the fish protected habitat; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now considering a critical habitat designation.
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.
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.