Strengthening Bird Conservation by Fostering Bird Cities

The many challenges facing birds throughout the Americas have reduced breeding bird populations by 3 billion birds since 1970. Bringing the birds back requires sound science, effective planning, and an army of local conservationists working together across the landscapes upon which birds rely.

To help build this conservation force, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and Environment for the Americas (EFTA) have created a conservation and education program known as the Bird City Network (BCN).  The Bird City Network is designed to foster innovation and connections that lead to advances for birds in natural areas, parks, gardens, main streets, and backyards and to make communities better places to live.

Indigo Bunting. Photo by Danita Delmont/Shutterstock.
Core Partnerships

Major support for the Bird City Network has been provided by a key partner, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), in particular the Urban Bird Treaty Program and USFWS Region 3.

ABC, EFTA, and USFWS are working together to ensure that the Bird City Network maximizes its impact while also seeking synergies with existing conservation programs like USFWS's Urban Bird Treaty Program, EFTA's World Migratory Bird Day, and ABC's Cats Indoors!

The Bird City Network is a flexible, widely distributed, and cost-effective model for delivering on-the-ground conservation actions for birds. The program engages partner organizations and provides tools, systems, and guidance for them to create and run their own Bird City programs. Those programs support people at the local level to take bird-friendly action that makes communities healthier for birds and for people. 

Girl birdwatching
Young girl birdwatching. Photo by Purino/Shutterstock
Bird City America “Franchises”

Program teams that join the Bird City Network will own and manage their programs and benefit from resources, training, and support from a centralized Bird City Network administered by ABC and EFTA. Collectively, these efforts will multiply existing capacity to improve habitats and reduce threats to birds across the hemisphere.

Bird City programs recognize communities that document specific conservation actions across four categories:

  1. Improving bird habitat
  2. Addressing threats to birds
  3. Engaging people in birding & conservation
  4. Encouraging sustainable practices
Baltimore Oriole taken in Minnesota by Agnieszka Bacal/Shutterstock
Baltimore Oriole. Photo by Agnieszka Bacal/Shutterstock

The Bird City idea began in the Midwest of the United States, where Bird City Wisconsin has been recognizing Bird City communities since 2010 in partnership with local governments, bird clubs, Audubon chapters, elected officials, non-profits, educators, nature centers, and a variety of other partners that lead local projects.

Bird City Wisconsin's success has resulted in the organic spread of the program to several additional states, a process that has made clear the need for a larger program to facilitate additional growth, provide difficult-to-obtain resources to the network, and facilitate the transmission of ideas between communities and programs.

Next Steps

Bird City Network Coordinator, Joanna Eckles, and Director, Dr. Bryan Lenz, are actively working with partners towards a public launch in early 2023 — please be on the lookout for exciting Bird City Network news!