Protected Birds

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) allows the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to list species of plants and animals as federally threatened or endangered. These United States designations are defined as follows:

“Endangered” means a species is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

“Threatened” means a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future.


The State Endangered Species Act (N.C. General Statutes Chapter 113 Article 25) empowers with N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission to recognize species as needing additional conservation. State-listed designations and their definitions are as follows:

“North Carolina Endangered” designation is given to any native or once-native species of wild animal whose continued existence as a viable component of the State’s fauna is determined by the Wildlife Resources Commission to be in jeopardy or any wild animal determined to be “‘Endangered” pursuant to the ESA.

“North Carolina Threatened” designation is given to any native or once-native species of wild animal that is likely to become an endangered species within the forseeable future throughout all of a significant portion of its range or one that is designated as “Threatened” pursuant to the ESA.

“North Carolina Special Concern” designation is given to any species of wild animal native or once native to North Carolina that is determined by the Wildlife Resources Commission to require monitoring but that may be taken under regulations adopted under the provisions of Article 25.

Species with either a United States or a North Carolina designation should be addressed in your forest management plan and taken into consideration during all activities in your woodlands.


(Picoides borealis)

Because the red-cockaded woodpecker prefers mature longleaf pine, North Carolina’s population decreased dramatically with the loss of the state’s longleaf pine forests. It was listed as “endangered” in 1970 and is now one of only two woodpecker species protected by the Endangered Species Act.

(Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Although bald eagles were removed from the Endangered Species List in 2007, they are still protected under the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Acts.  In North Carolina, Wildlife Resources Commission biologists continue to monitor and identify the locations of new bald eagle nests and provide technical guidance to landowners about how to protect bald eagles and their nesting sites.


(Colinus virginianus)

Although it has no official designation Northern bobwhite quail is a species of interest for many natural resource professionals and forest landowners.  The loss of suitable habitat has had a crushing impact on Northern bobwhite quail, and populations across North Carolina have declined for many years and remain near all-time lows. This bird is particularly scarce in the piedmont and mountains.

(Peucaea aestivalis)

Habitat loss and fire suppression are considered the most significant threats to the Bachman’s sparrow. In general, prime habitat is mature pine stands that are frequently burned. Sparrows will abandon a site if fire is excluded for more than three years.  For these reasons, in North Carolina this bird is found only in the coastal plain and is highly restricted to managed longleaf pine stands.

By William H. Majoros - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

(Protonotaria citrea)


(Aegolius acadicus)

The Northern Saw-whet Owl is a state-listed species – North Carolina Threatened.  Northern Saw-whet Owls are forest birds. One of the most common owls in forests across northern North America, and the smallest owl in eastern North America saw-whets are highly nocturnal and seldom seen.

(Sphyrapicus varius)