Species

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.

American oystercatcher

American oystercatcher


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
Credit: Jim Rorabaugh/USFWS

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
Credit: NOAA

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
Credit: Pam Mcllhenny, USFWS

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.

American shad
Credit: MassWildlife/Bill Byrne

American shad


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

Long-billed curlew


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 warbler

Bay-breasted warbler


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 bear

Grizzly bear


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.

Black-footed ferret

Black-footed ferret


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


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 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.

Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly


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.