February 2, 1998 – The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the yellow-billed cuckoo as an endangered species in the western United States.
1999 – In response to the Clinton administration's refusal to decide whether four imperiled species, including the yellow-billed cuckoo, should receive endangered species protection, the Center filed a suit asking a federal judge to order a decision on the species and throw out a 1996 Clinton policy overriding the mandates of the Endangered Species Act.
2000 – The Center and allies filed suit again to force a listing decision.
July 25, 2001 – In response to the lawsuit, the Service relegated the yellow-billed cuckoo to the candidate list, where it was acknowledged as threatened but remained without legal protection.
July 12, 2011 – The Center reached a landmark agreement with the Service compelling the agency to move forward in the protection process for 757 species, including the western yellow-billed cuckoo.
February 2014 – The Center filed a cease-and-desist notice with the Federal Aviation Administration and Arizona's Department of Transportation to stop spending money for the construction of a new taxiway at the Sierra Vista Muni-Libby Airport. Initial work to support the taxiqway had already begun without an analysis of environmental harm, such as to the San Pedro River and its wildlife, including the yellow-billed cuckoo.
October 1, 2014 – Yellow-billed cuckoos were listed by the Service as "threatened" under the federal Endangered Species Act.