Endangered vireo population rebounds

©Dennis Cooke

On Dec. 15, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing the black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla) from the Federal List of Threatened and Endangered Species because “[it] has recovered so that it no longer meets the definition of threatened or endangered,” said the Federal Register notice.

The vireo was listed as endangered in 1987, when about 350 individuals remained in the wild. The birds were threatened by habitat loss and nest parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater), which tricked vireos into raising cowbird chicks while compromising the survival of their own young. Prescribed fires, conservation easements, and brown-headed cowbird management by USFWS and conservation partners greatly reduced these threats and helped recover the vireo population. More than 14,000 individuals are now present across their breeding range that spans Oklahoma, Texas, and Mexico.

USFWS is accepting comments on the notice until Feb. 13, 2017.