Background information

Partners in Flight

The 2012 Partners in Flight (PIF) Population Assessment Database is a companion to PIF’s Saving Our Shared Birds: Tri-National Vision for Landbird Conservation report, which was published in 2010 and expanded upon the seminal North American Landbird Conservation Plan (2004). This work provides a continental synthesis of priorities and objectives to help guide landbird conservation actions at national and international scales.

The Plan’s Species Assessment Database included 448 native landbirds when it was first published in 2004. It now includes 462 species of native and non-native landbirds that regularly breed in the U.S. and Canada. Among other things, the Plan identifies those landbirds that are of continental importance for conservation actions. PIF recognizes three overlapping categories of species that have continental conservation importance. Those identified as Watch List species have multiple reasons for conservation concern across their entire range. PIF has also developed a list of Stewardship Species to stress the importance of stewardship and conservation responsibilities for those species that have a high proportion of their global population or range in a single biome within North America. PIF’s first tri-national assessment in 2010 identified 148 bird species in need of immediate conservation attention because of their highly threatened and declining populations, 24 of which breed in temperate-zone forests, grasslands, and aridland habitats in Canada and the United States. PIF identified these species as high priorities in the 2004 Landbird Conservation Plan, and they all continue to warrant immediate tri-national conservation action to prevent further declines.

To view the complete Species Assessment Database, see:

To view the complete North American Landbird Conservation Plan, see:

Landbird Conservation Plan categories:

  • U.S.-Canada Watch List Species: includes those species that are most vulnerable at a continental scale within these two countries, due to a combination of small and declining populations, limited distributions, and high threats throughout their ranges. Some of these species are already recognized as Threatened or Endangered at federal levels.
  • U.S.-Canada Stewardship Species: Continental Stewardship Species were then defined as species that have a disproportionately high percentage of their world population within a single Avifaunal Biome during either the breeding season or the non-migratory portion of the non-breeding season. The cut-off for “high percentage” varied among the biomes according to their size: 90% for large biomes, 75% for medium-sized biomes, and 50% for small biome.
  • Species of High Tri-National Concern: Species (including Mexican species) meeting the Watch List criteria listed above qualify as species of High Tri-National Concern if they fall into any of the following immediate need "Action Categories": 1) possibly extinct in wild, 2) critical needs, or 3) immediate needs. The TNC species have been subdivided into several categories in the assessment database, as in Berlanga et al. (2010), based on patterns of distribution, abundance, and risk.


  • Berlanga, H., J. A. Kennedy, T. D. Rich, M. C. Arizmendi, C. J. Beardmore, P. J. Blancher, G. S. Butcher, A. R. Couturier, A. A. Dayer, D. W. Demarest, W. E. Easton, M. Gustafson, E. Iñigo-Elias, E. A. Krebs, A. O. Panjabi, V. Rodriguez Contreras, K. V. Rosenberg, J. M. Ruth, E. Santana Castellón, R. Ma. Vidal, and T. Will. 2010. Saving Our Shared Birds: Partners in Flight Tri-National Vision for Landbird Conservation. Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Ithaca, NY (available at
  • Blancher, P.J., K.V. Rosenberg, A.O. Panjabi, B. Altman, A.R. Couturier, W.E. Thogmartin and the Partners in Flight Science Committee. 2013. Handbook to the Partners in Flight Population Estimates Database, Version 2.0. PIF Technical Series No 6. to the PIF Population Estimates Database Version 2.0.pdf
  • Panjabi, A. O., P. J. Blancher, R. Dettmers, and K. V. Rosenberg, Version 2012. Partners in Flight Technical Series No. 3. Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory website: