Finch, Deborah M.; Rothstein, Stephen I.; Boren, Jon C.; Graf, William L.; Holechek, Jerry L.; Kus, Barbara E.; Marshall, Robert M.; Pohl, Molly M.; Sferra, Susan J.; Sogge, Mark K.; Stromberg, Julie C.; Valentine, Bradley A.; Whitfield, Mary J.; Williams, Sartor O., III. 2002. Final recovery plan of the southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus). Albuquerque, NM: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 2. 529 p.
Final Recovery Plan Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus)
The southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) breeds in dense riparian habitats in southwestern North America, and winters in southern Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. Its breeding range includes far western Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, southern California, southern portions of Nevada and Utah, southwestern Colorado, and possibly extreme northern portions of the Mexican States of Baja California del Norte, Sonora, and Chihuahua. The subspecies was listed as endangered effective March 29, 1995. Approximately 900 to 1100 pairs exist.
The southwestern willow flycatcher breeds in relatively dense riparian tree and shrub communities associated with rivers, swamps, and other wetlands, including lakes (e.g., reservoirs). Most of these habitats are classified as forested wetlands or scrub-shrub wetlands. Habitat requirements for wintering are not well known, but include brushy savanna edges, second growth, shrubby clearings and pastures, and woodlands near water. The southwestern willow flycatcher has experienced extensive loss and modification of breeding habitat, with consequent reductions in population levels. Destruction and modification of riparian habitats have been caused mainly by: reduction or elimination of surface and subsurface water due to diversion and groundwater pumping; changes in flood and fire regimes due to dams and stream channelization; clearing and controlling vegetation; livestock grazing; changes in water and soil chemistry due to disruption of natural hydrologic cycles; and establishment of invasive non-native plants. Concurrent with habitat loss have been increases in brood parasitism by the brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater), which inhibit reproductive success and further reduce population levels.
- Recovery to the point that reclassification to “threatened” is warranted
- Recovery to the point that delisting is warranted
Reclassification from endangered to threatened may be considered when either of the following criterion have been met:
- Criterion A: Increase the total known population to a minimum of 1,950 territories (equating to approximately 3,900 individuals), geographically distributed to allow proper functioning as metapopulations, so that the flycatcher is no longer in danger of extinction. For reclassification to threatened status, these prescribed numbers and distributions must be reached as a minimum, and maintained over a five year period.
- Criterion B: Increase the total known population to a minimum of 1,500 territories (equating to approximately 3,000 individuals), geographically distributed among Management Units and Recovery Units, so that the flycatcher is no longer in danger of extinction. For reclassification to threatened status, these prescribed numbers and distributions must be reached as a minimum, and maintained over a three year period, and the habitats supporting these flycatchers must be protected from threats and loss.
The southwestern willow flycatcher may be removed from the list of threatened and endangered species when both of the following criteria have been met:
- Criterion 1. Meet and maintain, at a minimum, the population levels and geographic distribution specified under reclassification to threatened Criterion A; increase the total known population to a minimum of 1,950 territories (equating to approximately 3,900 individuals), geographically distributed to allow proper functioning as metapopulations, as presented in Table 10.
- Criterion 2. Provide protection from threats and create/secure sufficient habitat to assure maintenance of these populations and/or habitats over time. The sites containing flycatcher breeding groups, in sufficient number and distribution to warrant downlisting, must be protected into the foreseeable future through development and implementation of conservation management agreements (e.g., public land management planning process for Federal lands, habitat conservation plans (under Section 10 of the ESA), conservation easements, and land acquisition agreements for private lands, and intergovernmental conservation agreements with Tribes). Prior to delisting, the USFWS must confirm that the agreements have been created and executed in such a way as to achieve their role in flycatcher recovery, and individual agreements for all areas within all Management Units (public, private, and Tribal) that are critical to metapopulation stability (including suitable, unoccupied habitat) must have demonstrated their effectiveness for a period of at least 5 years.
Recovery actions in the Plan are categorized into nine types:
- Increase and improve occupied, suitable, and potential breeding habitat
- Increase metapopulation stability
- Improve demographic parameters
- Minimize threats to wintering and migration habitat
- Survey and monitor
- Conduct research
- Provide public education and outreach
- Assure implementation of laws, policies, and agreements that benefit the flycatcher
- Track recovery progress
Costs associated with recovery are estimated for each of the nine categories listed above, based on the years in which specific actions are scheduled to occur.
Date of Recovery:
- Reclassification to threatened could be initiated in 2020, or earlier
- Delisting could be accomplished within 10 years of reclassification