Yet another endangered bird is under attack because the habitat it needs to survive is prized by developers and other interests. This time, the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher has been targeted for removal from the Endangered Species List not because it’s recovering, but because it stands in the way of development. Will you help us stop this?
Southwestern Willow Flycatchers are small grayish-green birds once found commonly along rivers and streams. Today, the last 500 to 1000 breeding pairs of this subspecies struggle to survive in regions where 90-95% of their historic habit has been lost and where they are beset with challenges from predation, nest parasitism, disturbance, and further habitat loss. In California, in particular, we’ve seen important populations of this bird decline.
For more than two decades, the developers and landowners that opposed the original listing in 1995 have sought to undermine it. Now, they’re trying a new, even more audacious tactic: they’re claiming the species doesn’t even exist.
The recent delisting petition relies heavily on a single recent study that asserts that the Flycatcher is not a genetically unique subspecies. But most avian experts say that the study isn’t nearly enough to overturn decades of research to the contrary. Moreover, they point out that the new study – which has yet to be independently verified – downplays differences in physical attributes and geographical range. Moreover, the lead author of this research has admitted to taking money from developers for similar research in the past.
Not only is the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher a magnificent bird worthy of protection, it is also inextricably linked to the natural legacy of the American Southwest. Let’s make sure it has a future.
Director of Bird Conservation
Southwestern Willow Flycatcher. Photo: USFWS