Species Profile

Yellow-breasted Chat auricollis subspecies Southern Mountain population

Scientific Name: Icteria virens auricollis
Other/Previous Names: Western Yellow-breasted Chat (British Columbia population),Yellow-breasted Chat (British Columbia population),Yellow-breasted Chat auricollis subspecies (British Columbia population)
Taxonomy Group: Birds
COSEWIC Range: British Columbia
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2011
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: C2a(ii)
COSEWIC Reason for Designation:

This subspecies is a shrub-thicket specialist that occurs at the northern edge of its range in Canada. The small population, which is restricted to the Southern Mountain Ecological Area in British Columbia, is localized to a particular type of riparian habitat. A number of threats have been identified as serious concerns, including cattle tramping of rose thickets, road maintenance and urbanization, agricultural and potential hydro-electric development of the Similkameen River.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: The Southern Mountain population of the auricollis subspecies was designated Threatened in April 1994. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in November 2000 and November 2011.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2003-06-05

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Yellow-breasted Chat auricollis subspecies

Yellow-breasted Chat auricollis subspecies Photo 1
Yellow-breasted Chat auricollis subspecies Photo 2

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Description

The Yellow-breasted Chat is regarded as an unusually large warbler. It has olive-green upper parts, a lemon-yellow chin, throat and breast, and a white belly and undertail coverts. It has a thick bill and a long, rounded tail and rounded wings. The face is greyish, with black lores and distinctive white “spectacles”. There are two subspecies – I. v. auricollis in the western half of North America and I. v. virens in the eastern half. During the breeding season, chats have a distinctive song characterized by repeated whistles, alternating with harsh chattering clucks and soft caws. The Yellow-breasted Chat is a flagship bird species for early successional shrubland habitats; members of this guild are declining widely in North America. (Updated 2017/06/15)

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Distribution and Population

Yellow-breasted Chats breed in North America, south of the boreal forest. The auricollis (western) subspecies breeds from southern British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, south discontinuously to northern Mexico. It occurs as far east as western Nebraska, western Kansas, and central Texas. The virens (eastern) subspecies breeds from the east-central Great Plains and eastern Texas eastward, and north to southwestern Ontario. Chats winter in the lowlands of eastern and western Mexico through Central America to western Panama. In Canada, three populations are identified as separate designatable units: the Southern Mountain population of I. v. auricollis (British Columbia), the Prairie population of I. v. auricollis (Alberta and Saskatchewan), and the I. v. virens population (Ontario). (Updated 2017/06/15)

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Habitat

The Yellow-breasted Chat is a shrub specialist, occurring in dense riparian shrubland in western North America and early successional shrub habitats in the east. In British Columbia, the riparian habitat where chats live has been reduced by 87%. However, for the Prairie population, habitat may be increasing in Saskatchewan because of shrub succession. In Ontario, habitat has declined since the early 1960s, because of land conversion and successional change. (Updated 2017/06/15)

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Biology

Nests are situated close to the ground in dense shrubby vegetation. If nests fail, females will attempt up to three replacement clutches in one breeding season. Loose coloniality may occur, as territories are often clumped. In British Columbia, I. v. auricollis shows some site fidelity. In Ontario, some breeding sites are regularly occupied, whereas most others may not be used for more than a few years at best. (Updated 2017/06/15)

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Threats

In British Columbia, the most important threats to the Southern Mountain I. v. auricollis population are habitat loss from urban and agricultural land uses (coupled with proposed hydro-electric dams that would destroy riparian breeding habitat), road maintenance and/or construction, predation by introduced predators, brood parasitism by cowbirds, pesticide use, and collisions with vehicles and structures. (Updated 2017/06/15)

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Yellow-breasted Chat auricollis subspecies, Southern Mountain population, is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for the Yellow-breasted Chat auricollis subspecies (Icteria virens auricollis) (Southern Mountain population) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry

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Recovery Team

Yellow Breasted Chat (BC Population ) Recovery Team

  • Megan Harrison - Chair/Contact - Environment Canada
    Phone: 604-350-1989  Fax: 604-946-7022  Send Email

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Recovery Progress and Activities

Summary of Progress to Date Riparian habitat used by the British Columbia population of the Yellow-breasted Chat auricollis subspecies is being restored and protected through a variety of projects, but it is also being lost in places to new development. With only about 40 pairs in British Columbia, this population remains vulnerable to extirpation. Summary of Research/Monitoring Activities Most of the Yellow-breasted Chat’s population in the south Okanagan and Similkameen valleys is monitored by government and First Nations researchers. Ongoing research projects have continually fine-tuned our understanding of what constitutes suitable habitat for this population of Yellow-breasted Chat. This knowledge has been used to identify all potentially suitable breeding habitat remaining in the south Okanagan and Similkameen valleys. An improved understanding of habitat requirements has also helped the recovery team prioritize sites for habitat restoration. Summary of Recovery Activities Almost half of Yellow-breasted Chat habitat is on Indian Reserves and the rest is on private, provincial Crown and conservation lands. Protected areas and Crown land in the south Okanagan include the Vaseux Bighorn National Wildlife Area, South Okanagan Wildlife Management Area and Inkaneep Provincial Park. The South Okanagan Wildlife Management Area was designated in 1993 by the provincial government to protect riparian habitat that is important to Yellow-breasted Chats and many other species at risk while allowing cattle grazing and hay cropping to continue. Habitat restoration projects have been conducted on private lands, Indian Reserves and conservation lands in the South Okanagan and Similkameen valleys. Riparian habitat has been restored by fencing some riparian woodlands to exclude livestock and by re-flooding to restore some water flow to the marshes and oxbows. Fence maintenance is ongoing, as is control of invasive plants. The effectiveness of fencing at improving habitat quality for Yellow-breasted chats has been confirmed by monitoring all fenced sites since 2001. In 2002, the Osoyoos Indian Band began implementation of a range restoration plan in which riparian areas on reserve land will be protected and forage quality should improve through range rotations for cattle. This range plan benefits Yellow-breasted Chats by reducing grazing in a riparian zone where chats have been known to establish breeding territories. In 2003 a significant riparian habitat restoration project was initiated in Vaseux-Bighorn National Wildlife Area. The goal is to restore the north end meadow (16 ha) to riparian lowland forest by breaching the Okanagan River dike and restoring water flow to the area, creating habitat for up to 30 new chat territories. In 2004, the provincial government created 11 Yellow-breasted Chat wildlife habitat areas, each one between 1.1 and 1.5 ha. These sites were identified as having high quality nesting habitat and are protected through limiting livestock within the wildlife habitat area. The Land Conservancy of BC (TLC), in partnership with the En’Owkin Centre (a non-profit First Nations educational organization), is attempting to acquire a long-term lease over 72 acres along the Okanagan River channel, a property that is home to the Yellow-breasted Chat. The lands are currently held by First Nations families in a form of land tenure called Locatee. TLC aims to protect and restore the habitat on this important property, as well as provide an interpretive and educational program that teaches about the area’s ecology, provides opportunities for involvement in habitat restoration, and also focuses on aboriginal use of the land’s resources. Stewardship by private landowners is also necessary for the long-term recovery of the species. Outreach initiatives, such as the production of the “Chats in your neighbourhood” information booklet, have raised landowner knowledge of chat habitat requirements and techniques they might use to provide habitat. Many ranchers have supported riparian habitat restoration by providing alternate watering facilities for livestock and by allowing researchers access to their properties so that vegetation and bird community responses to the new habitats can be monitored.

Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

36 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Yellow-breasted Chat auricollis subspecies Icteria virens auricollis and the Yellow-breasted Chat virens subspecies Icteria virens virens in Canada (2012-10-15)

    The Yellow-breasted Chat is regarded as an unusually large warbler. It has olive-green upper parts, a lemon-yellow chin, throat and breast, and a white belly and undertail coverts. It has a thick bill and a long, rounded tail and rounded wings. The face is greyish, with black lores and distinctive white “spectacles”. There are two subspecies – I. v. auricollis in the western half of North America and I. v. virens in the eastern half. During the breeding season, chats have a distinctive song characterized by repeated whistles, alternating with harsh chattering clucks and soft caws. The Yellow-breasted Chat is a flagship bird species for early successional shrubland habitats; members of this guild are declining widely in North America.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Yellow-breasted Chat auricollis subspecies, Southern Mountain population (2013-01-03)

    This subspecies is a shrub-thicket specialist that occurs at the northern edge of its range in Canada. The small population, which is restricted to the Southern Mountain Ecological Area in British Columbia, is localized to a particular type of riparian habitat. A number of threats have been identified as serious concerns, including cattle tramping of rose thickets, road maintenance and urbanization, agricultural and potential hydro-electric development of the Similkameen River.

Recovery Strategies

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2011-2012 (2012-10-05)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (September 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012) from November 21 to 25, 2011 and from April 29 to May 4, 2012. On February 3, 2012, an Emergency Assessment Subcommittee of COSEWIC also assessed the status of the Tri-colored Bat (Perimyotis subflavus), the Little Brown Myotis (Myotis lucifugus), and the Northern Myotis (Myotis septentrionalis). During the current reporting period COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 67 wildlife species. For species already found on Schedule 1 of SARA, the classification of 32 species was reviewed by COSEWIC and the status of the wildlife species was confirmed to be in the same category (extirpated - no longer found in the wild in Canada but occurring elsewhere, endangered, threatened or of special concern). The wildlife species assessment results for the 2011-2012 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 1 Extirpated: 4 Endangered: 29 Threatened: 10 Special Concern: 15 Data Deficient: 2 Not at Risk: 6 Total: 67 Of the 67 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 49 species that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 26 of those species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment (see Table 1a).

Permits and Related Agreements

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species – December 2012 (2013-01-03)

    As part of its strategy for protecting wildlife species at risk, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Please submit your comments by March 4, 2013, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultations and by October 4, 2013, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations. Consultation paths.

Critical Habitat Descriptions in the Canada Gazette

Recovery Document Posting Plans

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada's Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan (2016-07-06)

    Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan identifies the species for which recovery documents will be posted each fiscal year starting in 2014-2015. Posting this three year plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency to partners, stakeholders, and the public about Environment and Climate Change Canada’s plan to develop and post these proposed recovery strategies and management plans. However, both the number of documents and the particular species that are posted in a given year may change slightly due to a variety of circumstances. Last update December 2, 2021
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