First-Ever Conservation Assessment of Central American Birds

By May 7, 2014Event, Partners, Science

In March, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory coordinated a landmark meeting in San Vito, Costa Rica, to determine the conservation status of the birds of Central America.

At the meeting, 30 participants representing the seven Central American countries, Mexico and the U.S. assessed all 407 bird species unique to Central America, as well as 500-plus species shared between Mexico and Central America. This included landbirds, shorebirds, waterbirds and waterfowl.

During the assessment, birds were assigned scores for three factors (threats to breeding, threats to non-breeding and population trend) using the Partners In Flight species assessment process. Scores ranged from 1 (low vulnerability) to 5 (high vulnerability) for each factor, with a higher overall score indicating a greater vulnerability to population decline or extinction.


RMBO International Director Arvind Panjabi explains the Partners In Flight species assessment process to participants. Photo by Greg Levandoski.

International Director Arvind Panjabi said partners who attended the meeting saw tremendous value in the process as a way to establish conservation priorities for birds and habitat in their own countries. Since many bird species that breed in the Rockies and elsewhere in the western U.S. winter in Central America, it’s important for RMBO and partners to support and advance conservation abroad, he said.

Next steps include completing the assessment using the other three PIF vulnerability factors (breeding distribution, non-breeding distribution and population size), and developing communication tools and messages to engage stakeholders in conserving at-risk species.

Thank you to all of the partners who attended the meeting and Environment Canada, Missouri Department of Conservation and USGS for funding.

Workshop Participants

Meeting participants pose for a photo. Great meeting, all! Photo by Greg Levandoski.


A Quetzal perches in a tree in Amistad International Park, Costa Rica. Such a cool bird! Photo by Arvind Panjabi.

Of course, we had to do a little birding while we were down in Costa Rica. View photos of the amazing birds of Costa Rica »