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Types of Birds

  • Migratory

  • Landbirds include a wide variety of species and taxonomic groups, including conspicuous or colorful hawks, hummingbirds, warblers, and tanagers, and less colorful but no less important flycatchers, thrushes, vireos, sparrows, and many other species. Many of these species are experiencing long-term population declines due to widespread loss of habitats important for their survival. Preservation of many different habitats for nesting, wintering, and migratory stopover sites is becoming vital for the survival of these birds.

  • Raptors or "Birds of Prey" are the top predators in the amazing array of bird species on the globe. Typically, raptors are thought to include the wide variety of hawks and owls, worldwide, including but not limited to hawks, owls, falcons, eagles, kites and vultures. Ranging in size from the pygmy owl to a golden eagle, bird species in this group characteristically have excellent sight, strong mandibles - the upper portion being curved with a fleshy cere, efficient talons and rapid metabolisms. Many, but not all of the owls are nocturnal, a group of night predators. Typically, the other groups of raptors, including the vultures, falcons, condors, hawks, eagles, osprey and kites are diurnal, active during daylight hours.

  • Shorebirds are among the most amazing of migratory birds, generally traveling very long distances and being on the move the greatest amount of time each year. They seem to "follow the sun," with many species traveling routes that extend from the Arctic Ocean to the southern tip of South America. Their natural histories are distinctive because they depend upon wetlands for much of their life cycles and a series of critical stop over sites along routes of migration. A series of problems resulting from habitat loss, human disturbance, pollution, food depletion, and increasing threats from predators led to the initiation of the USSCP in 1996. The goals of this plan are to protect populations of all shorebird species and to restore such populations to a healthy condition. The plan was completed in April 2000 and lays out conservation goals for 11 shorebird management regions of the United States. The plan also identifies critical habitat conservation needs as well as proposes outreach programs to increase awareness of shorebirds and their needs. Regional plans and national technical reports can be downloaded.

  • Waterbirds consists of a wide variety of 210 species of seabirds, coastal birds, wading birds, and wetland birds. It includes many familiar birds, such as Atlantic puffins and great blue herons, as well as inconspicuous marsh dwellers, such as black rails. Pelagic birds and colonial nesting birds are also included in this group. Marsh dwellers or "Marshbirds" encompass non-colonial, non-waterfowl aquatic species including loons, bitterns, non-colonial grebes, rails, gallinules, coots, limpkin, and cranes.

  • Waterfowl - For millennia, ducks, geese, and swans have migrated across North America's landscapes in an annual ritual that evokes a sense of wonder. Waterfowl are dependent upon a complex and increasingly vulnerable chain of habitats; dramatic loss of wetlands has resulted in declining waterfowl populations.
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