Coming Together to Save Bird Species: Can It Be Done?

Prairie Warbler, one of eight focal species for PIFV's Caribbean working group. Photo by Bill Hubick.

Prairie Warbler, one of eight focal species for PIFV's Caribbean working group.
Photo by Bill Hubick.

By Peter Marra

Day two at PIF V. Stayed up too late drinking and talking bird conservation. No regrets and I'll do it again tonight. Now I'm in the morning session … Andean music, bird quiz … then on to the plenary talks, which took a high altitude approach to the history of conservation in Costa Rica and then to the origins of ecosystems and the incorporation of human dimensions into conservation science. But my mind keeps focusing on the task at hand: how to stop the enigmatic declines of so many migratory birds over such large areas in such a complex world.

I'm feeling dizzy, not from the late night but by the challenge in charting the course. It's important that we spend the energy required to all get on the same page. It doesn't just happen without effort. We're looking at two approaches: a species approach as well as site-based conservation. I'm still looking for an explicit direction forward to save these declining species.

Later, in the morning session of the conservation business plan workshop, we focused on the Caribbean. We discussed how we deal with large-scale development—for tourism, energy extraction, and mining. These are big problems and ones in need of big solutions. We discussed a range of ideas from public service announcements with celebrities to increasing ecotourism. To succeed in turning the tide for the eight high-priority species we identified for this region, we are going to have to work hard and fast—and at times, I find myself having doubts on whether it can be done. In the short term, I am still inclined to depend on the science and look for specific geographic areas for targeted solutions.

PeterPeter Marra is a conservation scientist at the Migratory Bird Center, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. 

piflogocolorThis week, ABC hosts blogs from our friends at the Partners in Flight V (PIFV) meeting taking place in Snowbird, Utah. We are delighted to spread the word about PIF's great work to advance migratory bird conservation. For more information on the meeting, see