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.

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.

PriorityDecision Rule / Criteria
HighestHigh 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
HighHigh 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
ModerateHigh 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

Highest priority species for Ohio

Henslow's Sparrow
Henslow’s Sparrow. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.

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

Piping Plover. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.
Prothonotary Warbler. Photo by Matthew Shumar.

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 for Ohio

Common Nighthawk. Photo by Gary Kramer/USFWS

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