Priority Species

OBCI’s Priority Species

The goal in prioritizing Ohio’s birds is to identify species of highest conservation concern based on state, regional, and continental threats. We quantified an area importance factor that helped identify species that Ohio has high responsibility to protect. By prioritizing our species list, we will be able to identify those species that we should target to achieve goals set at the regional and national level. This will help direct limited funding resources towards species that need more immediate attention.

Data for the species prioritization came from peer-reviewed information directly obtained from the national bird conservation plans: The U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan, North American Waterfowl Plan, Waterbird Conservation Plan for the Americas and the North American Landbird Conservation Plan. Ohio Responsibility scores were obtained from Swanson and Dettmers (2002) or through expert opinion for those species not included in the paper.

Golden-winged Warbler. Photo by Matthew Shumar.

Priority species were placed into one of five categories: Highest, High, Moderate, Low, or State. The table below summarizes the decision rule and criteria for species prioritization.

Priority Decision Rule / Criteria
Highest High Continental Concern and High or Moderate Ohio Responsibility and High Concern in at least two of Ohio’s four BCRs;
OR Moderate Continental Concern and High Responsibility and High Concern in at least three of Ohio’s four BCRs
High High Continental Concern and High Ohio Responsibility and Moderate Concern in at least one BCR;
OR High or Moderate Continental Concern and High or Moderate Concern in three BCRs;
OR Low Continental Concern and High Concern in at least three BCRs
Moderate High Continental Concern and Low Ohio Responsibility and High Concern in at least one BCR;
OR Moderate Continental Concern and Low Ohio Responsibility and a combination of High and Moderates in at least two BCRs;
OR Low Continental Concern and Moderate Ohio Responsibility and High or Moderate Concern in at least two BCRs

Click on a category below for an expanded description and list of species:

Highest Priority Species for Ohio

Ten species fell into the Highest Priority tier. These species require immediate conservation action, and when possible, funding and effort should be directed towards these species. Highest Priority species have high conservation threats and concern across their range and are also regionally threatened.

  • American Black Duck  (Anas rubripes)
  • Short-billed Dowitcher  (Limnodromus griseus)
  • Solitary Sandpiper  (Tringa solitaria)
  • American Woodcock  (Scolopax minor)
  • King Rail  (Rallus elegans)
  • Blue-winged Warbler  (Vermivora cyanoptera)
  • Cerulean Warbler  (Setophaga cerulea)
  • Worm-eating Warbler  (Helmitheros vermivorum)
  • Wood Thrush  (Hylocichla mustelina)
  • Henslow’s Sparrow  (Centronyx henslowii)

High Priority Species for Ohio

Twenty-six species were categorized as High Priority. These species have widely decreasing populations, but the current threat is not as strong as for species in the Highest Priority tier. These species are perceived to be threatened at both regional and continental scales.

  • Buff-breasted Sandpiper  (Calidris subruficollis)
  • Greater Yellowlegs  (Tringa melanoleuca)
  • Piping Plover  (Charadrius melodus)
  • Upland Sandpiper  (Bartramia longicauda)
  • Wilson’s Phalarope  (Phalaropus tricolor)
  • Black Tern  (Chlidonias niger)
  • Common Tern  (Sterna hirundo)
  • American Bittern  (Botaurus lentiginosus)
  • Northern Bobwhite  (Colinus virginianus)
  • Northern Harrier  (Circus cyaneus)
  • Short-eared Owl  (Asio flammeus)
  • Eastern Whip-poor-will  (Antrostomus vociferus)
  • Black-billed Cuckoo  (Coccyzus erythropthalmus)
  • Red-headed Woodpecker  (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)
  • Loggerhead Shrike  (Lanius ludovicianus)
  • Bell’s Vireo  (Vireo bellii)
  • Acadian Flycatcher  (Empidonax virescens)
  • Prairie Warbler  (Setophaga discolor)
  • Prothonotary Warbler  (Protonotaria citrea)
  • Kentucky Warbler  (Geothlypis formosa)
  • Hooded Warbler  (Setophaga citrina)
  • Louisiana Waterthrush  (Parkesia motacilla)
  • Bobolink  (Dolichonyx oryzivorus)
  • Dickcissel  (Spiza americana)
  • Field Sparrow  (Spizella pusilla)
  • Grasshopper Sparrow  (Ammodramus savannarum)

Moderate Priority Species

Ohio has 68 species of Moderate Priority. In general, these species have slightly more stable populations or Ohio has lower responsibility for these species. However, Moderate Priority species may have a high concern within one or two of the BCRs and Ohio needs to pay attention to their population trends.

  • Canvasback  (Aythya valisineria)
  • Common Goldeneye  (Bucephala clangula)
  • Greater Scaup  (Aythya marila)
  • Lesser Scaup  (Aythya affinis)
  • Ring-necked Duck  (Aythya collaris)
  • Blue-winged Teal  (Spatula discors)
  • Green-winged Teal  (Anas crecca)
  • Northern Pintail  (Anas acuta)
  • Mallard  (Anas platyrhynchos)
  • Wood Duck  (Aix sponsa)
  • Hooded Merganser  (Lophodytes cucullatus)
  • American Golden-Plover  (Pluvialis dominica)
  • Black-bellied Plover  (Pluvialis squatarola)
  • Ruddy Turnstone  (Arenaria interpres)
  • Killdeer  (Charadrius vociferus)
  • Hudsonian Godwit  (Limosa haemastica)
  • Marbled Godwit  (Limosa fedoa)
  • Whimbrel  (Numenius phaeopus)
  • Red Knot  (Calidris canutus)
  • Wilson’s Snipe  (Gallinago delicata)
  • Least Sandpiper  (Calidris minutilla)
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper  (Calidris pusilla)
  • Western Sandpiper  (Calidris mauri)
  • Sanderling  (Calidris alba)
  • Dunlin  (Calidris alpina)
  • Common Gallinule  (Gallinula galeata)
  • Least Tern  (Sternula antillarum)
  • Black-crowned Night-Heron  (Nycticorax nycticorax)
  • Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron  (Nyctanassa violacea)
  • Least Bittern  (Ixobrychus exilis)
  • Snowy Egret  (Egretta thula)
  • Sora  (Porzana carolina)
  • Virginia Rail  (Rallus limicola)
  • Ruffed Grouse  (Bonasa umbellus)
  • Peregrine Falcon  (Falco peregrinus)
  • Eastern Screech-Owl  (Megascops asio)
  • Northern Saw-whet Owl  (Aegolius acadicus)
  • Chuck-will’s-widow  (Antrostomus carolinensis)
  • Common Nighthawk  (Chordeiles minor)
  • Chimney Swift  (Chaetura pelagica)
  • Belted Kingfisher  (Megaceryle alcyon)
  • Northern Flicker  (Colaptes auratus)
  • Yellow-billed Cuckoo  (Coccyzus americanus)
  • Purple Martin  (Progne subis)
  • Great Crested Flycatcher  (Myiarchus crinitus)
  • Eastern Wood-Pewee  (Contopus virens)
  • Willow Flycatcher  (Empidonax traillii)
  • Yellow-throated Vireo  (Vireo flavifrons)
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet  (Regulus satrapa)
  • Marsh Wren  (Cistothorus palustris)
  • Sedge Wren  (Cistothorus platensis)
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  (Polioptila caerulea)
  • Brown Thrasher  (Toxostoma rufum)
  • American Redstart  (Setophaga ruticilla)
  • Black-and-white Warbler  (Mniotilta varia)
  • Canada Warbler  (Cardellina canadensis)
  • Yellow-breasted Chat  (Icteria virens)
  • Eastern Towhee  (Pipilo erythrophthalmus)
  • Lark Sparrow  (Chondestes grammacus)
  • Vesper Sparrow  (Pooecetes gramineus)
  • Veery  (Catharus fuscescens)
  • Scarlet Tanager  (Piranga olivacea)
  • Orchard Oriole  (Icterus spurius)
  • Rusty Blackbird  (Euphagus carolinus)
  • Eastern Meadowlark  (Sturnella magna)
  • Western Meadowlark  (Sturnella neglecta)
  • Indigo Bunting  (Passerina cyanea)

To view State Concern and Low Priority species, please visit Appendix G of the Ohio All-Bird Conservation Plan.