Changes to Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act Would Strengthen Efforts to Reverse Bird Declines

A bill just reintroduced in the U.S. Senate would provide increased federal funding to conserve migratory bird habitats across the Americas

Baltimore Oriole in cherry tree by Paul Reeves Photography/Shutterstock

(May 12, 2022) In good news for migratory birds, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) have introduced a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA), one of the nation's most important bird conservation laws. The bill would provide a four-fold increase in funding to help conserve species like the Baltimore Oriole, Red Knot, Wood Thrush, and other migratory birds, many of which are in rapid decline.

“The NMBCA provides essential support to Latin American and Caribbean partners who ensure migratory birds have a place to return in winter after breeding in the U.S. – such as the Cerulean Warbler and Wood Thrush,” said Steve Holmer, Vice President of Policy at American Bird Conservancy (ABC). “By increasing NMBCA funding, the door is opened to greater participation from partner groups, as well as larger projects that are more effective at meeting bird conservation needs.”

“ABC thanks Senators Cardin and Portman, and greatly appreciates their conservation leadership on this critical issue,” Holmer said. “This legislation is urgently needed to help the Americas' diminishing migratory bird populations.” 

A landmark 2019 study by ABC and partners found that nearly three billion birds have been lost in the U.S. and Canada since 1970. The NMBCA has helped conserve 400 species, including some of the most endangered birds in North America. 

“Effective conservation projects like those supported by the NMBCA can help us turn these losses around,” said Dan Lebbin, ABC's Vice President of International Programs. “The NMBCA provides a lifeline for bird conservation, encouraging habitat protection, education, research, monitoring, and other work to provide for the long-term protection of Neotropical migratory birds. A diverse range of species, from songbirds to raptors, benefit from the Act.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service receives many more requests for high-quality conservation projects under the NMBCA than it can fund at current maximum authorization levels, set by Congress at $5 million this year. Under the new version of the law, that amount could increase to $20 million. 

The NMBCA grant program has been a catalyst for bird conservation and partnership development throughout the Western Hemisphere, actively promoting the long-term conservation of Neotropical migratory birds and their habitats. Since 2002, the NMBCA has supported more than 500 conservation projects in 36 countries, on more than 4.2 million acres of critical bird habitat.

“The NMBCA is the only federal U.S. grant program specifically dedicated to the conservation of migratory birds throughout the Americas,” Lebbin said. “Advances in conservation for many declining species, such as the Cerulean, Canada, and Golden-Winged Warblers, owe a great deal to the NMBCA.”

Any U.S. citizens who want to show their support for the NMBCA this migration season can reach out to their U.S. senators via ABC's spring 2022 NMBCA action alert.

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American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.org, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).

Media Contact: Jordan Rutter, Director of Public Relations| jerutter@abcbirds.org | @JERutter

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