Black Oystercatcher-A California Bird Species of Special Concern

Back in 2008, Western Field Ornithologists and California Department of Fish and Game published, “California Bird Species of Special Concern”. It was a ranked assessment of species, subspecies, and distinct populations of birds of immediate conservation concern in California. It was edited by W. David Shuford and Thomas Gardall. It’s 450 pages of information with individual accounts on the birds they found to be of special concern.

They ranked the birds using seven criteria such as population trends, range trends, population concentration, impact of threats, etc. The Black Oystercatcher was not on their list of bird species of special concern. So what happened? Climate change was not one of the criteria they used.

That has changed. In 2012, PRBO and California Department of Fish and Game published, ” A Climate Change  Vulnerability Assessment of California’s At-Risk Birds”. Authors are Thomas Gardali, Nathaniel E. Seavy, Ryan T. DiGaudio, and Lyann Comrack. This report reevaluated 358 birds and their susceptibility to the effects of climate change. Because of this new ranking 5 new bird species were added to the original list and 10 had their priorities raised. The Black Oystercatcher was one of the new birds added to the list. In fact it was one of thirteen birds having the highest “climate vulnerability scores” in the new assessment.

The Mendocino Coast Audubon Society has taken on the Black Oystercatcher as one of their “citizen science” projects and is  going on their third year of documenting their numbers and nesting success here on the Mendocino coast. They are currently plentiful here so let’s hope for their future. If you are interested in reading the new assessment you can find it here.


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