Bicknell’s Thrush is among the landbird species of highest conservation concern in North America. In response to heightened conservation concerns for this enigmatic thrush, a coalition of scientists, natural resource managers, and conservation planners developed a science-based conservation action plan.
A rare and geographically restricted habitat specialist of balsam fir-dominated forests in the northeastern U.S. and southeastern Canada, Bicknell’s Thrush is estimated to number fewer than 100,000 individuals. The species is at risk from a variety of threats to its breeding habitats, including recreational development, telecommunication construction, wind power development, acidic precipitation, mercury deposition, and climatic warming. On its Caribbean wintering grounds, where an estimated 90% of the global population is concentrated on Hispaniola, loss of forested habitats has been severe and is ongoing. Recent monitoring of breeding populations indicates consistent, rangewide declines, especially in Canada.
The International Bicknell’s Thrush Conservation Group (IBTCG) held its inaugural meeting in 2007 in Woodstock, Vermont, with 25 people attending from five northeastern states and two Canadian provinces. The group’s overall charge is to develop and implement a Conservation Action Plan for Bicknell’s Thrush, which was finalized and released in July 2010. Participants in the IBTCG include representatives from academia, federal and state conservation agencies, non-governmental organizations, and industry.
- Increase the global population of Bicknell’s Thrush by 25% over the next 50 years (2011-2060).
- Ensure no further net loss of distribution of Bicknell’s Thrush across its breeding and winter ranges.
- Implement and sustain a rangewide breeding season monitoring program.
- Implement direct conservation and research actions that will address identified threats to Bicknell’s Thrush, leading to improved protection, management and restoration of breeding and wintering habitats.
IBTCG is a flexible, inclusive group of more than 40 people from over 25 organizations with a shared commitment to Bicknell’s Thrush conservation. A full list of members can be found in the first Conservation Action Plan. The group is organized by a coordination committee comprised of numerous partners who will seek funding, maintain momentum, set meetings and agendas, and identify next steps.
Updated Conservation Action Plan
In November 2015, five years after the first Plan was released, the IBTCG met once again in Woodstock, Vermont—site of the inaugural IBTCG meeting in 2007—to begin the process of revising the Plan. The two-day workshop highlighted significant progress towards the goals of the Plan, but also reinforced the need for continued action on behalf of Bicknell’s Thrush and its habitat. Actions taken by the IBTCG since the release of the first Plan have mitigated some important threats to Bicknell’s Thrush, but others remain largely unabated. As such, the IBTCG recognized the need for an updated and revised Plan that would catalyze action and guide the collective efforts of those interested in conservation of Bicknell’s Thrush.
This revised Plan reflects the consensus of the IBTCG about the primary threats facing Bicknell’s Thrush and the actions that may help mitigate those threats. It does not provide a comprehensive list of every threat to Bicknell’s Thrush, but instead attempts to focus on those believed to pose the greatest risk of further endangerment of the species. It does not identify every action that might prove useful in mitigating threats; rather, it singles out actions believed to have a higher probability of success based on published research or the personal experience of contributors to the revised Plan. The revised Plan is a tool for communicating about the conservation of Bicknell’s Thrush, both within the community of scientists and conservation practitioners that make up IBTCG and more broadly to policy makers, elected officials, and the public. Finally, the revised Plan is intended as a guide to investing limited resources for conservation most effectively.