American Bird Conservancy Celebrates 30 Years of Results for Birds Across the Americas

Millions of Acres Conserved, Benefiting 3,000 Bird Species Since 1994
Cerulean Warbler. Photo by Joshua Galicki.

As American Bird Conservancy (ABC) marks its 30th year, the organization is kicking off a celebration of birds saved, habitat conserved, and the people who made it happen. After three decades of conserving wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas, ABC's mission-driven work has benefited more than 3,000 bird species to date – around 30% of the world's total – that have been recorded at sites protected by ABC and its dozens of partners. 

“No other bird conservation organization has achieved as much on-the-ground habitat conservation as ABC,” said Larry Selzer, current ABC Board chair and longtime ABC Board member. “The organization is focused, disciplined, and fearless. Clear, tangible results combined with the highest ratings from charity rating organizations is a winning combination. It is an honor to work with the staff and Board – their commitment to delivering superior results with integrity and respect gives me hope for the future of birds.”

With a steady focus on its mission and on delivering results, ABC puts a high priority on ensuring that all support received is used to make a positive difference for birds and their habitats on the ground. Dedicated supporters, an expert staff, an independent, experienced Board of Directors, and a strong and diverse network of partners have provided ABC with a powerful formula for success.

ABC's 30th anniversary is a great occasion to take a look at how the organization has delivered on its mission. Some high-impact accomplishments, achieved by working together with dozens of partners, include: 

“When we started ECOAN in 2000, I told people that when it comes to saving nature, the solution is to work with local stakeholders and local communities, because they need to be part of the solution,” said Tino Aucca, President of ECOAN (Peru), one of ABC's longest-standing partner groups. “Engage them to be allies by providing them capacity-building, jobs, leadership, and hope with real and concrete actions on the ground. Most organizations didn't want to hear that. But happily, ABC did. ABC was the first international group to hear my message and support our work. Now, see where we are after 24 years working as a great family.”

  • Planting more than 7.7 million trees in bird reserves and buffer areas in countries such as the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Peru, resulting in improved habitat for birds and a range of benefits to people, from carbon sequestration to water conservation.

“As a Board member originally from Ecuador, I have been continuously impressed by the depth of ABC's collaboration with partner organizations across Latin America,” said Maribel Guevara, ABC Board member and Director of the ECOador International Film Festival. “In recent decades we have seen a huge number of local organizations created to protect birds in the region, and ABC has been the leader in helping them build new reserves to protect habitats and build institutional stability to steward those areas for the long term. I am so appreciative of ABC staff for making me feel welcome in the organization, and making me feel my opinion is valued and that they care for my people and my land.” 

  • Taking bold action with partners to prevent the extinction of birds in Hawai'i, known as the “bird extinction capital of the world.” This work has included translocations of ‘Ua'u (Hawaiian Petrel) and ‘A'o (Newell's Shearwater) to a predator-free site on Nihoku, where they can safely breed; and the establishment of a thriving new population of Millerbirds on Laysan Island. ABC is also involved in the critically important “Birds, Not Mosquitoes” project to save the state's 17 remaining honeycreeper species. This multi-agency partnership is dedicated to decreasing the incidence of deadly avian malaria by reducing populations of the disease-carrying mosquitoes.

  • Improving management of more than 9.3 million acres of habitat to reverse population declines of migratory birds, much of which was accomplished by working with the Migratory Bird Joint Ventures (JVs) – networks of partners including federal and state agencies, nonprofit groups, tribes, and private landowners. ABC's habitat work, increasingly focused in priority geographies called BirdScapes, is part of our response to the groundbreaking 2019 study (co-authored by ABC) showing that nearly 3 billion birds have been lost from United States and Canada breeding populations since 1970. A few examples of species that are benefiting from ABC-led efforts to improve their habitats are Kirtland's, Cerulean, and Golden-winged Warblers, Long-billed Curlew, Northern Bobwhite, Snowy Plover, and Western Meadowlark.

  • Addressing the top human-caused threats to birds in habitats across the Americas. ABC programs have played a key role in passing bird-friendly building ordinances in 24 municipalities; in encouraging millions of cat owners to keep their cats indoors; in the cancellation or restriction of 15 different pesticides that are toxic to birds; and the halting or mitigation of wind energy projects in at least 17 locations where risks to birds were unacceptably high – in keeping with our philosophy that renewable energy is essential in the fight against climate change, yet must be sited in areas where impacts on birds will be minimized.
Nonprofit trust awards, and Greater Sage-grouse by Noppadol Paothong.

Since 1994, ABC has grown from a handful of dedicated staff to more than 140 today, with an annual budget of $35 million. ABC's founding President Dr. George H. Fenwick led ABC through its fledgling years and built the firm foundation the organization has today, together with Rita Fenwick, who played a critical role with ABC over the course of its history. Now led by Michael J. Parr, the organization continues to flourish, receiving top nonprofit awards every year from charity evaluators such as GreatNonprofits, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, and Candid.

“Congratulations ABC on three decades of widening the birdwatching field of view to bring the avian conservation conversation into a more inclusively diverse focus,” said J. Drew Lanham,  author, poet, public speaker, and scientist based at Clemson University. “It's been said that ‘many hands make light work.' Since conservation means caring, I know that many hearts working together will mean more birds. Here's to the next 30!” 

Looking beyond 2024, ABC is implementing a large-scale vision to conserve the next 10 million acres of bird habitat. Through this ambitious “10 Million Acre Challenge” campaign, ABC will secure protected habitat for “gap” species – endangered birds whose ranges fall outside of any existing protected area in Latin America and the Caribbean – as well as improving habitat for many Neotropical migratory species. In North America, ABC will prioritize healthy habitat for all bird species whose populations are in steep decline. As always, ABC will use rigorous science to prioritize birds of highest concern, ensuring conservation of the most important habitats and sites to prevent extinctions and bring back populations of dwindling species. This challenge includes making habitat safe for birds by, for example, removing feral cats, wind turbines, and pesticides that may impact critical sites and landscapes.

“Bird conservation is my life's work, and I am extremely lucky and proud to have been given the chance to lead ABC,” said Parr, ABC President. “I'm excited about what the future holds and what this organization will achieve over the next 30 years. I believe that – if we stay focused on our mission and true to our principles, including welcoming diverse perspectives and honoring differences through our Together for Birds initiative – we will reach the ultimate milestone: a turning point where bird declines turn to increases, and where bird extinctions are a thing of the past. Working together, we can ensure that the future abounds with birds and nature.”

“However, we can only accomplish this,” Parr added, “by finding ways to be much more inclusive in terms of the people we engage in bird conservation, by removing barriers and ensuring expanded access, and by providing ways to engage people with birds and nature that have not existed before. I look forward to working with ABC's staff, Board, partners, and supporters to make this happen.”


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.orgFacebookInstagram, and X/Twitter (@ABCbirds).

Media Contact

Jordan Rutter
Director of Communications