Species Groups

Photo credit: Pam Hunt

Findings & Recommendations by Species Groups

While habitat associations are important when thinking about broad-scale bird conservation, it can also be useful to consider other ways of grouping similar birds together. This was perhaps most evident during the DDT era, when predatory birds high on the food chain, whether they ate fish or other birds, were all affected by accumulation of pesticides in their tissues. Here we present summaries of the conservation status of five groups of birds, each defined by some combination of ecology and relatedness that transcends habitat (although many often share a habitat).

For three of these groups: waterfowl, shorebirds, and seabirds, the majority of species don’t actually breed in New Hampshire, and the grouping helps highlight the conservation challenges faced by highly migratory birds across their full annual cycle (see also Birds in Migration and Winter). For birds of prey and aerial insectivores, the unifying feature is diet, and many of the threats and conservation actions related to these groups cross habitat lines. Increases in waterfowl and birds of prey are testament to how we can succeed at reversing declines as long as we know what the problems are. It’s never too late to work on such emerging conservation issues.

Comparison of bird population trends among five taxonomic or foraging groups (includes breeding and non-breeding species). Numbers in the table indicate the number of species in each trend category.

Interpreting the Graphs

Trend information is presented in two ways in the species group summaries. For most groups there is a donut chart, but only showing the trends for species in that group. The number of species included in each donut chart is indicated inside the chart. In addition to the donut charts, there are often graphs showing population trends for representative species over the last 50 years. Unless otherwise stated, these graphs are based on Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data for New Hampshire, and the lines represent an index of abundance over time. For a list of the State’s breeding and regular non-breeding species, plus their habitat associations, see the table in the Resources.

Species Groups


Birds of Prey


Aerial Insectivores

Ocean Birds

Information for the species profiles on this website was compiled from a combination of the sources listed below.

  • The Birds of New Hampshire. By Allan R. Keith and Robert B. Fox. 2013. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological club No. 19.

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of New Hampshire. Carol R. Foss, ed. 1994. Arcadia Publishing Company and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • Birds of the World. Various authors and dates. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

  • Data from the Breeding Bird Survey

  • Data from the Christmas Bird Count