Western Yellow-Billed Cuckoo Proposed as Threatened Species
A bird that spends only a few months in Utah each year could potentially change the way riverbank habitats are managed if it’s listed as a threatened species. The Western yellow-billed cuckoo lives along river banks in heavy vegetation beneath stands of cottonwood trees. That riparian habitat is disappearing in the West, and that’s why the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list the bird as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
Biologist Keith Day with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says small populations of the yellow-billed cuckoo are found along the Green, San Juan and Virgin rivers. He says their habitat depends on natural river flows.
Day tells KUER, “Some of the issues in the riparian zones are just the flow regimes and the renewal and regeneration of these cottonwood flooded bottomland areas. Some of them are not getting the regeneration they need.”
Day says the state of Utah would like to avoid a threatened species listing because that could lead to new restrictions on land use in riparian areas. But he says the Division of Wildlife Resources is ready to work with federal authorities and other Western states to develop a plan for protecting the birds.