Monday, March 16, 2015


I am a lifelong birder, love virtually all things natural-history related (sorry plants), and work for a large environmental consulting firm. All of these experiences provide me with a unique viewpoint on the world we live in – and as time goes by I find my focus is drawn more and more to our “endangered” or “at risk” species found in Ontario and beyond…Ever since I was a child, the word “endangered” carried a certain mystique, an allure of scarcity… These species can define a habitat or location… And heck – they can even provide a living if the circumstances are correct. 

Despite my limited time taking interest in such things, I can’t help but feel we are at a crossroads in such processes… Sure, I’m new to all of this – but I can say (with some conviction) that things just ain’t like they used to be. Some of the shine has worn off, as it were… I can beat around the bush for hours, but once you slap “Threatened” next to “Barn Swallow” – well, people just won’t be takin you seriously anymore.

So I'm taking matters into my own hands... The process is too slow, and may well be outdated… In the age of instant information and communication, the everyday man (or woman) has no time for delays, debates, consultation, facts or reading. We need these matters dealt with as quickly (and inexpensively) as possible. I have therefore decided to start COSBIRDF, or;

the Committee On the Status of Birds Internationally, Really Declining or F#©ked

I've taken it upon myself to create the new species list for Ontario... Criteria are utterly subjective and rigorously applied. Let me know if you have any suggestions and we can adopt them ASAP... The list! -


Eskimo Curlew
Greater Prairie-Chicken


Barn Owl
Northern Bobwhite

Really F’in Endangered:

Kirtland’s Warbler
Henslow’s Sparrow
Prothonotary Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
King Rail
Piping Plover
Loggerhead Shrike


Cerulean Warbler
Acadian Flycatcher
White-eyed Vireo
Least Bittern
Golden Eagle
Red Knot

Actually Threatened:

Rusty Blackbird
Golden-winged Warbler
Red-headed Woodpecker

Kinda Threatened:

Olive-sided Flycatcher
Common Nighthawk
Chimney Swift
Wood Thrush
Eastern Whip-poor-will

Should be Threatened:

Louisiana Waterthrush
Short-eared Owl

Not Actually Threatened:

Barn Swallow
Bank Swallow
Eastern Meadowlark
Canada Warbler

Not sure if Threatened:

Yellow Rail
American White Pelican
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Western Meadowlark

Especially Concerned:

Black Tern
Upland Sandpiper
Purple Martin

Special Concern:

Eastern Wood-Pewee
Grasshopper Sparrow
Clay-coloured Sparrow
Evening Grosbeak
Tufted Titmouse
Ruddy Turnstone
Marbled Godwit

Not concerned:

Peregrine Falcon
Bald Eagle


  1. Relevant link:
    The main thing I learned is that some organization or government body is spending something like $10 000 apiece on barn swallow nest structures!

    1. haha - exactly... Just imagine if we pooled all of that BARS-structure money (which are meant to be a temporary thing, i think?), and bought some land at Long Point, or Pelee Island, or just about anything else!

  2. And what about the monarch? There are so many other lep species out there that could actually benefit from increased funding (and need it a lot more).

    1. Maybe I will. Sadly, the general public's emotions govern what's to be saved - so as long as Bald Eagles and Monarchs exist, all is well.

  3. I agree the swallow structures are a waste, but I think they are priced closer to $2,000 around Long Point. Not sure I believe that articles number. I suspect the decline is closer related to a decline in aerial insects, and other factors they face during migration and on the wintering grounds. As we all know, many aerial insectivores are declining, and they don't all nest in old barns!

    I'm more than happy to slap Barn Swallow's with the threatened label. From COSSARO's application for the listing of Barn Swallow: (In Canada).."Long-term BBS data show a statistically significant decline of 3.9% per year between 1970 and 2009 (Sauer et al. 2011), which corresponds to an overall population decline of about 79.6% over the last 40 years." If a decline by 80% doesn't get you listed I don't know what does. It's the negative trend that's worrying. There would have still have been "lots" of passenger pigeons and eskimo curlews after a decline of 80%, but we know how that ended.

    The general public's emotions do not play much of a role in listing species - there are specific thresholds that need to be met before a species is listed. Having said that I agree that insects generally get the shaft.

    Buying land is great for saving special habitats and areas of significance but it's not practical for protecting and or restoring populations of most species. $1,000,000 buys about 100 acres around Long Point and probably less land on Pelee Island..not much bang for your buck, and not solving the real problem with most of the declines we are seeing.