WildEarth Guardians

A Force for Nature

Select Page
Photo credit: Steve Hillebrand, USFWS

Masked bobwhite (Colinus virginianus ridgwayi) | ESA status: endangered

Masked bobwhite
The masked bobwhite is a critically endangered bird once thought to be extinct due to the ravages of livestock grazing in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.

Masked bobwhite habitat

Masked bobwhites need patches of vegetation that keep them hidden from both ground and aerial predators and protect them from high temperatures.

What are the threats to the masked bobwhite?

Extreme drought and over-grazing by livestock have eliminated much of the bobwhite’s habitat in Mexico. Reduced plant diversity due to invasive plants reduces the cover that bobwhites need to survive. Some of the habitat in Mexico has become a near-monoculture of introduced buffelgrass, which may be too thick for bobwhite to navigate.

Currently, there are almost no masked bobwhites in the wild; 600-1000 birds are held in a captive breeding facility in Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. Surveys in both the U.S. and Mexico show the species dangerously close to extinction in the wild.

What WildEarth Guardians is doing to save the masked bobwhite

Because southern Arizona’s Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge is the species’ primary safety net, WildEarth Guardians has sought to eliminate livestock grazing on adjacent public lands to enhance the bobwhite’s recovery.