Press-Republican

Environment

August 19, 2012

Bicknell's thrush considered for federal protection

PLATTSBURGH — The Bicknell’s thrush, a small songbird that spends its summers in the mountains of upstate New York and New England, may soon be classified as a threatened or endangered species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to evaluate the current status of the Bicknell’s thrush to determine whether the species needs federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.

“We’re at a very early stage in the process,” said Meagan Racey, spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We are now moving into a 60-day period in which we will collect information from the public, and then we will move into a more extensive 12-month review of the status of the Bicknell’s thrush.”

The Bicknell’s thrush is smaller than a robin but larger than a sparrow. Adults are olive-brown on the upper parts, with a red tint along the tail. The under parts are white with gray on the flanks. The breast is gray with darker spots.

LOBBIED FOR PROTECTION

The Fish and Wildlife Service received a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity to consider federal protection for the species. After a 90-day fact-finding process that followed the petition, the federal agency decided the Bicknell’s thrush warranted formal consideration.

“Based on the information in the petition and in our files, we believe there is evidence that warrants further evaluation,” Racey said, adding that the species has been impacted by loss of breeding habitat and by a consistent threat to its habitat from climate change.

The Bicknell’s thrush relies on the mixed spruce and fir forests found in higher elevations across New England and the Adirondack Mountains. Climate change could have a significant impact on those evergreen forests over the next quarter century, Racey noted.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service evaluates the status of plants and animals based on five distinct factors, including threats to habitat and other natural or human-induced factors, such as climate change.

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