WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to designate 2,000 miles of habitat next to streams across six western states as critical habitat for the southwestern willow flycatcher.
The flycatcher is a small migratory bird listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act since 1995. The affected states would be California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.
The agency designated 599 miles of rivers and streams as critical habitat for the flycatcher in 1997. In 2005, the agency added another 138 miles of river habitat to the designation, resulting in a total of nearly 121,000 acres of habitat designated as critical to the bird’s survival.
The Center for Biological Diversity sued the agency over the 2005 designations, arguing that it was insufficient to support the food and breeding site needs of the willow flycatcher. The agency settled with the group in 2010, and agreed to add an additional 2,000 miles of stream habitat to the designation.
The birds migrate to Mexico, Central America and South America during the winter, returning to their northern habitat when temperatures closer to the equator get too hot.