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Tri-National Assessment

Bird_Thingy_Graphic.jpgWith nearly 900 landbird species occurring in Canada, Mexico, and the United States, focusing conservation actions on the highest priority species, habitats, and geographic areas is of critical importance. PIF has developed a species assessment process that provides scientific evaluations of conservation vulnerability for birds. This process generates scores that rank the vulnerability of each species based on factors such as population size, distribution, population trend, and threats. The results are used to assign regional and continental landbird conservation priorities. For technical details, see the Appendices and visit the PIF Species Assessment website.

Building on the assessments from the 2004 PIF North American Landbird Conservation Plan, hundreds of PIF partners completed new or updated assessments for the 882 native landbird species in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. The first ever assessment of Mexican birds was coordinated by the Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO) and the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, and engaged more than 100 Mexican ornithologists and conservation leaders. In this report, we present the results of this process to aid tri-national efforts to conserve North American landbirds. In keeping with PIF’s mission of helping species at risk, keeping common birds common, and engaging in voluntary partnerships, we asked three fundamental questions using the species assessment database:

• Which species are at greatest risk of extinction?

• Which common species are experiencing steep population declines?

• Which species share substantial populations across countries and would benefit most from cooperative international conservation?

Tri-National Species Assessment

The following examples illustrate how we used the species assessment database to answer the three fundamental questions.



Species such as the Thick-billed Parrot are considered to be at greatest risk of extinction, due to their very s mall breeding range and the severe threats faced by their small and steeply declining populations.



Photo by Martjan Lammertink




With distinctive populations breeding in different parts of Canada, Mexico, and the United States, the Northern Flicker is a common bird. Yet its populations have declined by more than 50% in the past 40 years. Common species in steep decline are sensitive indicators of the deteriorating health of their habitats.

Photo by William Jobes


Photo by Greg Lavaty


By examining seasonal range maps, we identified species, such as the Hermit Thrush, that have substantial portions of their distribution in all three of our countries, compelling us to international conservation action.




Double click on image to see large
view of 12  habitat types.
Photos, top to bottom,  left to right:  Kenneth V.
Rosenberg, Innu Nation, Kenneth V. Rosenberg,
Terry Rich, Janet Ruth, Kenneth V. Rosenberg,
Terry Rich, Ashley Dayer, Rosa Ma Vidal (2),
Martjan Lammertink, Miguel  A. Sicilia

By identifying the species most in need of conservation action, as well as those most amenable to tri-national actions, we can identify the habitats and geographic areas where actions are most urgent. We assigned species of conservation interest to one of 12 primary habitat types and identified primary wintering habitats for migrants (double click on image at left; also see Appendices B, C, and D). We overlayed digital range maps of species in each group to identify regions of highest conservation importance, as well as linkages among regions and countries. Finally, by identifying the major threats affecting high-priority species and habitats, we were able to point to specific actions to address these conservation needs.

This tri-national assessment builds upon the priorities identified for the United States and Canada in the 2004 PIF Landbird Conservation Plan.  The new assessment spotlights speciesthat warrant conservation attention at global and continental scales and highlights the critical importance of Mexico for resident and migratory birds.

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