how can we protect migratory birds

Turn Off Lights at Night

Bright lights can confuse migrating birds, causing them to veer into buildings or stray from the correct migration route. Did you know that most birds migrate at night? This poses a serious risk to migratory birds, but not many people are aware of it. Help spread the word and learn more here.

how can we protect migratory birds

Clear glass blends in with the surroundings, invisible to a bird migrating across it. Installing streamers or labelling the window itself with paint, stickers, or other marking material can serve as a warning to birds about windows and help avoid crashes. Even drawing the blinds closed can aid in dispersing the glass surface. Look for stunned birds during migration in the spaces beneath large, unmarked windows. Additionally, check the glass for collision-related feathers or smudges.

how can we protect migratory birds

Shrubs, bushes, and trees make great perches for resting. Hummingbirds get their energy from flowers, and they also draw insects, which give weary and hungry birds their energy. Compared to non-native plants, native plants are better suited to the local climate, need less water, and contribute to less erosion. For additional resources, look for native plants in your area or visit Audubon Rockies’ Habitat Hero program.

how can we protect migratory birds

Even though life can get hectic at times, birds are also busy! This spring, a few seemingly insignificant actions, like turning on a light switch or drawing the blinds, can have a big impact on migrating birds.

Save migratory birds by turning off outdoor lights.

How to locate, recognize, and assist birds that are migrating through Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado

Plant a better world for birds and people.

News and stories about birds and conservation in the Rockies.

Attend an event in person or virtually to help or learn about birds.

Meet the people behind our work.

Executive Order 13186: Responsibilities of Federal Agencies to Protect Migratory Birds

For both this nation and other nations, migratory birds have enormous ecological and economic significance. These birds not only enhance biological diversity but also provide immense pleasure to millions of Americans who observe, study, feed, or hunt them across the US and other nations. The United States has ratified bilateral international conventions for the conservation of migratory birds, demonstrating its recognition of the vital importance of this shared resource. A few examples of these conventions are the following: the Convention for the Protection of Migratory Birds and Their Environment (Mexico 1936), the Convention for the Protection of Migratory Birds and Their Environment (Japan 1972), and the Convention for the Conservation of Migratory Birds and Their Environment (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 1978). The Convention for the Protection of Migratory Birds with Great Britain on behalf of Canada (1916)

Through the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (Act), the United States has implemented these migratory bird conventions with respect to the United States. These conventions impose significant obligations on the United States for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. Executive Order 13186 (PDF)(4 pp, 38. 6 K, About PDF) gives executive departments and agencies specific instructions on how to carry out the Act’s implementation.

North American Waterfowl Management Plan

In response to sharply declining waterfowl populations, the United States and Canada adopted the North American Waterfowl Management Plan in 1986. The Plan set forth a strategy for restoring waterfowl populations to 1970s levels through voluntary, non-regulatory, public-private partnerships that work to conserve the wetlands habitats that waterfowl need to survive. Mexico joined Canadian and U.S. partners in 1994.

The Plan is implemented regionally even though its scope is global. Joint Ventures—partnerships involving businesses, conservation organizations, individuals, and federal, state, provincial, and local governments—are used to achieve implementation. Joint Ventures concentrate on areas of concern noted in the larger Plan and create coordinated, site-specific habitat management programs and projects with a solid biological foundation. Partners in the plan contribute significantly to the conservation of all species that depend on wetlands, in addition to promoting the conservation of waterfowl. 1998 saw a substantial update to the Plan, with a focus on landscape-level conservation and cooperation with other conservation initiatives, especially those related to migratory birds.

Partly in support of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, Congress enacted the North American Wetlands Conservation Act in 1989 to encourage voluntary, public-private partnerships to conserve North American wetland ecosystems. The Act establishes an infrastructure and provides a source of funding, a competitive grant program.

EPA is a member of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, which was founded in 1929 after the Migratory Bird Conservation Act was passed. The Commission was empowered to examine and approve any land and/or water areas that the Secretary of the Interior recommended the United States buy or rent. S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Act. Apart from authorizing acquisition and leasing fees, the Commission also takes into account the creation of fresh waterfowl refuges. The North American Wetlands Conservation Act gave the Commission the additional authority to approve project funding in 1989 for projects in the United S. , Canada and Mexico.

Neotropical migratory birds journey each year between U. S. and breeding grounds in Canada, as well as more southern wintering locations in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Latin America While some migrants cover thousands of miles on foot, others only cover a few hundred.

Concern grew in the last few decades when annual bird counts showed that the numbers of once-common neotropical migratory land birds were sharply declining. It is believed that the primary cause of the decline in both Latin America and North America is habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation. Neotropical migrants also face issues with pollution, competition from exotic species, crashes into buildings and cars, hunting and control as agricultural pests, and elevated rates of parasitism and predation brought on by exotic species, feral animals, and damaged habitat. Partners In Flight/Compañeros en Vuelo/Partenaires dEnvol was established in 1990 as a response to decreases in the numbers of neotropical migratory birds.

The central premise of Partners In Flight (PIF) is that the resources of public and private organizations in North and South America must be combined, coordinated, and increased in order to achieve success in conserving bird populations in this hemisphere. Partners in Flight is not a government agency or program. It is a public-private partnership involving many government agencies, conservation groups, industry, and many others. PIF-affiliated bird conservation initiatives have been established in Canada, Mexico, and 28 Latin American and Caribbean countries.

PIF aims to concentrate funding on enhancing research, management, monitoring and inventory, and educational initiatives concerning birds and their habitats. To achieve these objectives, the PIF strategy aims to promote collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors in North America and the Neotropics. The goal of PIF is to “keep common birds common,” emphasizing the conservation of birds that are not currently covered by other conservation initiatives. The majority of land birds and other species needing terrestrial habitats have been included in the effort, which was initially concentrated on species that breed in the Nearctic (North America) and spend the winter in the Neotropics (Central and South America).

Partners in Flight has taken a multifaceted approach to bird conservation.

  • Establish priorities for research and monitoring, exchange information, coordinate efforts, and create standard operating procedures and protocols. For instance, PIF created a species priority-setting system that is used to rank all land bird species in North America at the physiographic area level; their website features a well-known version of this scheme known as the “Watch List.” Furthermore, the National Audubon Society maintains a Priority Birds list.
  • Further education and awareness about the need for bird conservation. PIF organizes the well-known “International Migratory Bird Day” in May each year and publishes a number of periodicals in both English and Spanish. Migratory Bird Citizens Manuals are also under development. The handbooks will function as useful resources that residents and neighborhood organizations can utilize to create bird conservation plans. A prototype Citizens Manual for Maryland is already complete.
  • Conservation Planning. Priority species lists, descriptions of priority habitats, goals for the population of birds, and habitat objectives are all included in bird conservation plans. The plans serve as the foundation for action taken by citizens, non-governmental organizations, public and private land managers, and other experts in wildlife and natural resources. The planning process for bird conservation is outlined and guided by a general strategy called The Flight Plan.

Since its inception, EPA has been actively involved in Partners in Flight, having in May 1991 inked a memorandum of understanding with several other federal agencies.

The U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan was developed through a collaborative effort between researchers, state and federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, land managers and education specialists from the U.S. Working in cooperation with colleagues from Canada and Mexico, this partnership seeks to advance effective conservation of North American shorebird species. The U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan addresses three primary objectives: a) development of a standardized, scientifically-sound system for monitoring and studying shorebird populations that will provide practical information to researchers and land managers for shorebird habitat conservation; b) identifying the principles and practices upon which local, regional and national management plans can effectively integrate shorebird habitat conservation with multiple species strategies; and c) design of an integrated strategy for increasing public awareness and information concerning wetlands and shorebirds.

The Plan’s implementation will necessitate an engaged, dedicated, and varied collaboration between organizations in the U S. and in the other countries where shorebirds occur. Different partnership organizations and structures will be used to carry out implementation at different scales. These will include a U. S. Regional Working Groups established in the majority of the Shorebird Planning Regions, which will concentrate on implementing regional objectives; National Technical Working Groups on Research and Monitoring, Education and Outreach, and Habitat Management; and the Shorebird Plan Council, which will function as a national advisory and steering committee Under the terms of the Waterfowl Management Plan and other bird conservation programs, particularly the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, each of these organizations will collaborate closely with corresponding Joint Ventures.

Complementing the work of the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan is the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN). WHSRN links wetland and associated upland sites essential to migratory shorebirds in a voluntary, non regulatory program of research, training, and collaborative effort for habitat management, environmental education, and protection. Its scope is hemispheric because shorebirds migrate across the hemisphere — some travel all the way from the Arctic to the southern tip of Argentina! Launched in 1985, the Network brings together over 120 wildlife agencies, private conservation groups, and other organizations to solve conservation challenges faced by migratory shorebirds and their habitats. With the addition of 4 new sites in September 2000, the number of officially designated sites in the system stands at 46, responsible for managing over 20 million acres in 7 Western Hemisphere nations.

Critical sites are found along a chain that connects arctic breeding grounds to South American wintering grounds for numerous shorebird populations. The system is only as strong as its weakest link, just like any chain. The Network draws attention to the crucial roles that specific locations play throughout the hemisphere in preserving that food chain. The land administrator retains management authority and priority; participation in the Network and its projects is entirely voluntary. A site can receive recognition and assistance for its involvement in a hemispheric endeavor by becoming a member of the Network. The Network acknowledges the significance of member sites in shorebird migration internationally, thereby supporting local initiatives aimed at conserving wetlands. Depending on the quantity and kind of shorebirds that use the sites for migration or wintering, they are classified as either hemispheric, international, regional, or endangered species reserves.

The Network seeks to accomplish the following five main objectives: 1) Locate and preserve shorebird migration hotspots in the Western Hemisphere; 2) Encourage and support the growth of robust conservation groups and their initiatives to safeguard shorebirds and shorebird habitats; 3) Foster strong public support for wetlands and shorebird conservation through public education and awareness campaigns (Save Our Migratory Birds); 4) Create and support international, national, and local policies to help ensure the long-term protection and management of the hemisphere’s migratory shorebirds and critical wetlands; and 5) Gather, examine, and distribute data on shorebird distribution, migration, habitat, and biology in the Western Hemisphere.


How can humans help with bird migration?

Make Windows Visible To a migrating bird, clear glass is indistinguishable from surrounding habitat. Putting up streamers or marking the window itself—with stickers, paint, or some type of marker—can alert a bird to a window and prevent collision. Even closing blinds can help break up the image of the glass surface.

How can we help migratory animals?

It is important to remember that a diversity of habitat encourages a larger variety of birds. Dead trees and brush piles provide shelter, nest sites and food (insects) for migrating birds. Landscape the yard with native evergreen and fruit bearing trees, shrubs, grasses, and vines.

Why is it important to protect migratory birds?

Migratory birds help in dispersal of seeds, leading to maintenance of biodiversity along their routes. Ducks can transport fish eggs in their guts to new water bodies. The droppings of birds, also known as guano, are rich in nitrogen and act as organic fertilizers.