State of the Birds >



Shrublands, such as sagebrush and chaparral, are dominated by shrubs and short trees. The habitat covers 20 percent of the 48 contiguous states, and most of it is seriously degraded in quality. Primary threats to western shrublands include conversion to pasture for grazing, invasion of nonnative species, resource extraction, too-frequent or too-scarce fire, overgrazing, and the growth of ranchettes. In the East, shrubland habitat is succumbing to succession to forest, over browsing by deer, and urbanization.

Figure 1. Of the 107 shrubland bird species, 71 are green species, 24 are yellow WatchList, and 12 are red WatchList. This is the highest proportion of yellow WatchList species for any of the major habitat types.


Figure 2. According to the Breeding Bird Survey data from 1966 to 2003, 50 of 78 shrubland species are declining, and there is no trend information for 29 species.


Northern Bobwhite
Numbers of this bird have dropped by more than two-thirds, to about 9 million individuals; it has mostly vanished from the northeastern states.

Painted Bunting
This colorful bunting is also a target of the caged-bird trade, exacerbating the problem of habitat loss. Its population has dropped by half, to 4.5 million birds.

Florida Scrub-Jay
Because of burgeoning suburbs, there are only about 10,000 Florida Scrub-Jays today, less than 10 percent of the pre-European population.

Additional Yellow WatchList species in shrubland habitats:
Greater Sage-Grouse

Lesser Prairie-Chicken

Mountain Quail

Harris's Hawk

Antillean Nighthawk

Lucifer Hummingbird

Costa's Hummingbird

Allen's Hummingbird

Willow Flycatcher

Gray Vireo

Tamaulipas Crow

Black-capped Gnatcatcher


Curve-billed Thrasher

alifornia Thrasher

LeConte's Thrasher

Blue-winged Warbler

Virginia's Warbler

Lucy's Warbler

Prairie Warbler

Abert's Towhee

Brewer's Sparrow

nned Sparrow

Harris's Sparrow

Additional Red WatchList species in shrubland habitats:
Gunnison Sage-

Bristle-thighed Curlew

Bell's Vireo

Black-capped Vireo

Island Scrub-Jay

California Gnatcatcher

Bendire's Thrasher

Golden-winged Warbler

winged Sparrow

Five-striped Sparrow