Species Profile

Yellow-breasted Chat virens subspecies

Scientific Name: Icteria virens virens
Other/Previous Names: Eastern Yellow-breasted Chat ,Yellow-breasted Chat (Eastern population)
Taxonomy Group: Birds
COSEWIC Range: Ontario
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2011
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: C2a(i,ii); D1
COSEWIC Reason for Designation:

This subspecies is a shrub-thicket specialist that occurs at the northern edge of its range in Canada. Its population in southern Ontario is localized and very small. Since the last status report was produced, declines have occurred in the Ontario population, owing to habitat loss. The potential for rescue effect has also been dramatically reduced, because population declines are evident across most of the northeastern range of this subspecies.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Special Concern in April 1994. Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2000. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in 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 virens subspecies

Yellow-breasted Chat virens subspecies Photo 1

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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 by COSEWIC - Nov. 2011]

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Distribution and Population

Yellow-breasted Chats breed in North America, south of the boreal forest. The virens 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). In British Columbia, the latest population estimate for I. v. auricollis is 152 pairs. There is some suggestion that the population there has declined from historic levels. In Saskatchewan and Alberta, this subspecies expanded its range substantially northward during the 20th century. The Prairie population has been relatively stable since the 1980s, though further increases may have occurred in Saskatchewan. In Alberta, the population is estimated at 900-1000 pairs. There are an estimated 530 pairs in Saskatchewan. Overall, the population of I. v. auricollis in Canada is estimated at between 1582 and 1682 pairs. In the west, populations in the adjacent U.S. appear to be relatively stable. For the I. v. virens subspecies, there are fewer than 42 pairs in Ontario. Until very recently, the provincial stronghold was at Point Pelee National Park and Pelee Island, but this is no longer the case. The Ontario population has declined by about 33% over 10 years. The I. v. virens subspecies is showing long-term significant declines in all states adjacent to Ontario, coupled with a range retraction over most of the entire northeast. Thus, the potential for a future rescue effect for the Ontario population is currently low and diminishing.[Updated by COSEWIC - Nov. 2011]

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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 Ontario, habitat has declined since the early 1960s, because of land conversion and successional change. [Updated by COSEWIC - Nov. 2011]

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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 Ontario, some breeding sites are regularly occupied, whereas most others may not be used for more than a few years at best. [Updated by COSEWIC - Nov. 2011]

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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. Although the Prairie population of I. v. auricollis in Saskatchewan has increased because of heightened natural succession in riparian areas, some habitat has been lost as a result of reservoir construction. In Alberta, heavy levels of livestock grazing and damming of rivers may affect some sites. For the Ontario population of the virens subspecies, the greatest threats are loss of suitable habitat from land conversion (agriculture/urban) and changes in habitat suitability as a result of natural succession. [Updated by COSEWIC - Nov. 2011]

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Yellow-breasted Chat virens subspecies 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 virens subspecies
Status Final posting on SAR registry

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Recovery Team

Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus - Lake Erie Sand Spit Savannas

  • Vicki McKay - Chair/Contact - Parks Canada
    Phone: 519-322-2365  Fax: 519-322-1277  Send Email

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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.

24 record(s) found.

Reports on the Progress of Recovery Document Implementation

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 virens subspecies (2013-01-03)

    This subspecies is a shrub-thicket specialist that occurs at the northern edge of its range in Canada. Its population in southern Ontario is localized and very small. Since the last status report was produced, declines have occurred in the Ontario population, owing to habitat loss. The potential for rescue effect has also been dramatically reduced, because population declines are evident across most of the northeastern range of this subspecies.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Yellow-breasted Chat virens subspecies (Icteria virens virens) in Canada (2019-06-26)

    The Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency is the competent minister under SARA for the Yellow-breasted Chat virens subspecies and has prepared this recovery strategy, as per section 37 of SARA. To the extent possible, it has been prepared in cooperation with the Province of Ontario and any others as per section 39(1) of SARA.

Action Plans

  • Multi-species Action Plan for Point Pelee National Park of Canada and Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada (2016-07-05)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Point Pelee National Park of Canada and the Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of the two sites: Point Pelee National Park of Canada (PPNP) and the Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada (NNHS). The NNHS is being used as a term to collectively refer to two locations in the Niagara region that consist of three National Historic Sites: Fort George National Historic Site, Battlefield of Fort George National Historic Site, and Butler’s Barracks National Historic Sites of Canada. The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species At Risk Act (SARA s.47) for species requiring an action plan and that regularly occur in these sites. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur at PPNP and at NNHS.
  • Multi-species Action Plan for Rouge National Urban Park of Canada (2021-10-07)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Rouge National Urban Park of Canada applies to all federally owned lands and waters managed by Parks Canada in Rouge National Urban Park (RNUP), including Bead Hill National Historic Site. To the extent possible, it has been prepared in cooperation with Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the province of Ontario, the Rouge National Urban Park First Nations Advisory Circle, and environmental non-government organizations as per section 48(1) of SARA. The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species at Risk Act (SARA s.47) for species requiring an action plan and that regularly occur at this site. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur at RNUP. In light of the current Covid-19 pandemic, the 60-day public comment period on the proposed Multi-species Action Plan for Rouge National Urban Park of Canada has been extended to 90 days to provide sufficient time for feedback.

Management Plans

Orders

  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (volume 151, number 5, 2017) (2017-03-08)

    His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, acknowledges receipt, on the making of this Order, of assessments done pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada with respect to the status of the species set out in the annexed schedule.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (volume 151, number 23, 2017) (2017-11-15)

    Biodiversity is rapidly declining worldwide as species become extinct. Today’s extinction rate is estimated to be between 1 000 and 10 000 times higher than the natural rate. Biodiversity is positively related to ecosystem productivity, health and resiliency (i.e. the ability of an ecosystem to respond to changes or disturbances), and, given the interdependency of species, a loss of biodiversity can lead to decreases in ecosystem function and services (e.g. natural processes such as pest control, pollination, coastal wave attenuation, temperature regulation and carbon fixing). These services are important to the health of Canadians, and also have important ties to Canada’s economy. Small changes within an ecosystem can lead to a loss of individuals and species resulting in adverse, irreversible and broad-ranging effects.

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.

Related Information

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA) Listing Plan 2016 to 2018 (2017-09-29)

    The status of wildlife species is assessed by an independent panel of expert Canadian scientists, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). 149 terrestrial species were assessed as at-risk by COSEWIC between 2009 and 2016 and are eligible for listing under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) to be considered by the Governor-in-Council (GIC) on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment: 86 species would be new additions, 54 currently listed species would be reclassified and 9 species would be updated to reflect changes in their recognized designatable units. A three-year listing plan has been developed to address all 149 terrestrial species and listing decisions for most species are anticipated by the end of 2018. Making amendments to Schedule 1 of SARA is a two-step process. The first step is for the GIC to propose an amendment through an order in council published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a 30-day public comment period. The second step is for the GIC to make a final decision on whether or not to make amendments to Schedule 1 of SARA, taking into consideration comments received during the 30-day public comment period. The amendments are made through an order in council published in the Canada Gazette, Part II. Both orders are accompanied by a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS) which presents the implications of listing the species or changing their status. Publishing this plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency about the Government of Canada’s plan to make listing decisions under the Species at Risk Act. NOTE: The information presented below is intended to provide openness and transparency with respect to when terrestrial species might be considered for listing under Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act. It is intended to assist anyone who may wish to provide comments on such listing considerations. Given any number of factors can affect the timing of a listing decision; the Plan is subject to change. Accordingly, the Plan will be periodically updated.

Critical Habitat Descriptions in the Canada Gazette

  • Description of critical habitat of Yellow-breasted Chat virens subspecies in Point Pelee National Park (2019-07-27)

    The Yellow-breasted Chat virens subspecies (Icteria virens virens) is a large neotropical migrant songbird. It has a lemon-yellow breast, chin and throat; olive green back, wings and tail; and a blue-grey head with white spectacles. This species is protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and listed on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act. Yellow-breasted Chats are restricted to a relatively narrow range of habitat conditions, including early or mid-successional shrub habitat. In Canada, the Yellow-breasted Chat virens subspecies mainly occurs in Ontario, where there is a very small breeding population in the extreme southwestern portion of the province, concentrated near the north shore of Lake Erie and around Pelee Island.
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