Southwestern Willow Flycatcher
Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

New Mexico
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge encompasses more than 57,000 acres of riparian habitat and arid uplands along the Rio Grande River. Tens of thousands of birds winter on the refuge annually, leading to its designation as an Audubon Important Bird Area.

The Invaders
Saltcedar, an invasive tree species, has taken over approximately 6,000 acres of the 15,000-acre riparian floodplain in Bosque del Apache, and is threatening large tracts of riparian floodplain throughout the Southwest.

Threat to Birds
The Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, listed as endangered with Critical Habitat in New Mexico, Arizona, and California, and the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, a federal candidate species, benefit from habitat mosaics characteristic of southwestern riparian areas. The Southwestern Willow Flycatcher prefers moist, dense, shrubby areas adjacent to water, while the Yellow-billed Cuckoo uses more mature native riparian woodlands. Both birds are vulnerable to a variety of threats to their riparian habitat, including damming, dredging, and channelization. Control of invasive saltcedar on Bosque del Apache Refuge, along with restoration of native riparian woodlands, is needed to sustain and recover these imperiled species.