Conservation programs funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation benefit hundreds of species and the habitats they depend on across the United States. NFWF has developed conservation strategies with measurable outcomes that track progress for many of these species. These species are good indicators of healthy habitats.
These strategies and metrics can be found in NFWF’s business plans developed by scientists and other experts, and approved by the Foundation's Board of Directors. NFWF programs fund conservation grants that implement the strategies and actions identified in the business plan.
Click on the species to learn a little about it, and which programs fund grants to conserve the species and its habitat.
The whimbrel is a large shorebird that uses its long, curved bills to feed on crabs and other invertebrates in the sand or mud. The most widespread of the curlew species, these birds winter throughout the Caribbean and northern South America and nest in the low-Arctic. Restoring and protecting critical foraging sites is an important strategy for maintaining a healthy population.
Cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) encompasses a number of distinct trout subspecies. These are iconic denizens of western landscapes, known for the red "cutthroat" under their jaw. They are associated with cold, clean, highly oxygenated streams, though many of the forms live in lakes and one is anadromous. Cutthroat trout are impacted by stream barriers, invasive fish and de-watering of their habitat.
American black duck
The American black duck is large dabbling duck who resemble the closely-related mallard, but are darker in appearance and much less common. Black ducks nest in wetlands throughout the Eastern Seaboard, including freshwater and salt marshes where restoration and protection are vitally important to maintaining black duck populations.
Pollinators are a group of insect, avian and mammalian species that fertilize many flowering plants and agricultural crops by transferring pollen from the male structures (anthers) to the female structures (stigma) during foraging. More than 80 percent of flowering plants on earth need pollinators to produce the next generation, and it is estimated that they add hundreds of billions of dollars to the global economy, highlighting their extreme importance to human food security.
Central California Coast coho salmon
The central California coast coho salmon is an evolutionarily significant unit of coho salmon that are found from central California near Punta Gorda to the northern border of California. They are an endangered species that rely on proper timing of streamflows in rivers to allow individuals to spawn and increase juvenile survival.
The lake sturgeon is native to rivers and lakes from Hudson Bay to the Mississippi River. It is among the longest-living fish, with some individuals living more than 100 years. A species that evolved more than 150 million years ago, overfishing, particularly in the Great Lakes system, has decimated populations and recovery has been slow due to low reproductive rates and other sustained antropogenic threats such as pollution and introduced aquatic species.
Elkhorn coral are one of the most important reef building corals found in the Caribbean, where individual colonies can grow more than 6 feet in height and 12 feet in diameter. Elkhorn coral were listed as threatened following a severe disease outbreak that caused widespread mortality, decimating the population to less than 3 percent of its former abundance. Warming ocean temperatures are a further stress on these corals.
American horseshoe crab
The American horseshoe crab plays an integral ecological role, particularly in the Delaware Bay where hundreds of thousands of shorebirds rely on horseshoe crab eggs to build energy reserves for their northward migration. Contrary to their name, horseshoe crabs are in fact not crabs at all. They are arthropods, making them more closely related to spiders and scorpions.
A well-known inhabitant of eastern deciduous forests, the wood thrush is known for it's flute-like song during the mating season. Wood thrush are excellent indicators of moist mature forests with structurally complex mid and understories. Habitat loss and degraded habitat quality on both breeding and wintering grounds have resulted in population declines since at least 1970.
Black-throated blue warbler
Black-throated blue warblers are neotropical migrant that nests in the rich deciduous and mixed coniferous forests of eastern North America. Breeding male and females are sexually dimorphic, meaning they have vastly different appearances—so much so that they were originally described as two separate species. While males have a black face and throat with a blue head and back, females are a plain grayish olive color.
The American oystercatcher is a stocky shorebird who is characterized as a short-distance migrant whose movements are confined to the United States and adjacent Caribbean islands. The oystercatcher wades in shallow water and uses its powerful bill to pry open and feed on mollusks, so protecting and restoring near-shore feeding grounds are critical for this species.
Southwest willow flycatcher
The southwestern willow flycatcher, a subspecies of the broadly distributed willow flycatcher, is a small songbird that is currently listed as "Endangered" under the Endangered Species Act and breeds in densely vegetated riparian buffers throughout the southwest. The loss of these native riparian habitats along with water diversion for agriculture, invasive vegetation and brood parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds have caused major declines in abundance for this subspecies.
North Atlantic right whale
North Atlantic right whales are one of the most endangered large whales in the world, with fewer than 100 breeding females in the entire population. Living up to 70 years, these large baleen whales migrate from New England to the shallow coastal waters of South Carolina, Georgia, and northern Florida, which serve as important feeding and calving areas.
Louisiana black bear
One of 16 subspecies of the American black bear, the Louisiana black bear was listed as threatened in 1992 under the Endangered Species Act, citing habitat loss and fragmentation as primary threats to their populations. Significant improvements in population size and habitat achieved through habitat protections, concerted reforestation efforts, and translocations resulted in the Louisiana black bear’s removal from the Endangered Species List in 2016.
The American shad is an anadromous fish that can be found in rivers and coastal waters along the entire Atlantic coast. Once supporting a large commercial fishery, shad have declined in abundance following decades of overfishing and the construction of dams along migration routes, which reduces access to spawning habitat.
Long-billed curlew are a charismatic member of the Northern Great Plains bird fauna. The species is North America's largest shorebird and are of conservation concern due to long-term declines and pervasive threats across both nesting and wintering locations. Long-billed curlews use their very long decurved bill to probe for crabs, shrimp and mollusks in the coastal marshes and mudflats of California and Mexico during their non-breeding period, and to pick up grasshoppers and other terrestrial insects as they trundle along through the prairie.
Bay-breasted warblers nest in spruce and fir forests across Canada, and can be found in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and the Adirondack Park of New York. While they occupy similar habitats as Cape May and blackpoll warblers, bay-breasted warblers in particular forage at the inner mid-level, and nest in the lower third-level, of trees.
Grizzly bears are the North American subspecies of brown bears which roam throughout Canada and northwestern America. Grizzlies are omnivores, feeding on insects and deer alike. Come winter they descend into a deep sleep called torpor where they do not eat or drink until they emerge in the spring.
Thought to be extinct in the wild until 1981, the critically endangered black-footed ferret is North America's only native ferret species and a member of the weasel family. Loss of native grasslands, disease, and declines in prey abundance contributed heavily to their decline, but captive breeding and reintroduction programs have helped this species reestablish small portions of their historic range.
West Indian manatee
West Indian manatee have earned their nickname of “sea cows,” consuming about 32 pounds of aquatic plants each day and weighing more than 3,000 pounds. Found throughout the Caribbean, manatees are common in Florida where the populations have increased significantly in recent years, resulting in the species being downlisted from endangered to threatened in 2017.
Cape May warbler
Cape May warblers are a spruce-fir boreal forest-nesting neotropical migrant that spends the breeding seasion in northern North America and non-breeding period in the Caribbean. They are often seen as a flash of brilliant yellow and rust as they forage actively in the tops of trees where they are dependent on spruce budworm caterpillars.
One of North America's most iconic species, the monarch butterfly is best known for it's spectacular 3,000-mile annual migration from their northern breeding grounds to wintering grounds in central Mexico. A distinct, western monarch population migrates between the western states and their winter range in coastal California; both the eastern and western populations have been negatively affected by habitat loss and reduction in milkweed plants that serve as the sole food source for monarch caterpillars.
The golden eagle is a Holarctic species that inhabits open country, in either deserts, tundra, high altitudes or rangelands. Although it is widely distributed in the continental United States, its numbers are generally much greater in western states.
Chinook salmon are anadromous—they hatch in freshwater, migrate to the sea, then return to freshwater to breed. Sometimes called “King Salmon,” they are the largest of the Pacific Salmon. They range from the Monterey Bay area of California to the Chukchi Sea of Alaska.