Celebrating Birds and Their Habitats Conserved in 2023: Reducing Threats and Building the Bird Conservation Movement

A Look Back at ABC’s Results in Reducing Threats to Birds and Building the Bird Conservation Movement This Year

Reducing Threats to Birds – Across the Americas

ABC is committed to addressing key threats to birds so that habitats are healthier and more safe. Working with policymakers, partner groups, and the private sector, we develop and implement solutions to large-scale causes of bird mortality, along with precedent-setting or critical regional bird problems. Our tactics include advocacy, grassroots outreach, the development of new technologies, and – if a problem can't be resolved in any other way – legal action. 

Wind energy: While ABC supports renewable energy, we push for facilities to minimize impacts on at-risk bird species. Some places are simply inappropriate for wind energy, and the small area in Brazil that's home to the Endangered Indigo (or Lear's) Macaw is one of them. In 2023, after several years of ABC advocacy and support to partners, a joint action lawsuit filed at state and federal levels was decided in favor of the rare macaw; the decision canceled French company Voltalia's licenses for the Canudos Wind Complex. However, appeals are now underway, and ABC and our Brazilian partners are continuing to push for the relocation of the facility out of the endangered parrot's habitat. 

The small eastern population of the Golden Eagle is threatened by plans to increase wind energy production in the Appalachian Mountains. As a result, ABC is petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as affected states, to list the Eastern Golden Eagle as a Threatened or Endangered Distinct Population Segment under the Endangered Species Act. Almost the entire population, 5,000 birds at most, uses the same Appalachian ridgelines that are favored for wind energy development. 

Glass collisions: Up to 1 billion U.S. birds are killed each year after colliding with glass. Our Glass Collisions Program takes action to inspire architects, building managers, and homeowners to reduce this threat. In 2023, in conjunction with Yale University, ABC published Building Safer Cities for Birds, an in-depth analysis of bird-friendly design mandates from five cities across the U.S. We were also instrumental in developing the bird-friendly design code adopted by the State of California. And, after six years of advocacy by ABC and others, the state of Maryland passed the Sustainable Buildings Act in 2023, mandating that all newly built, acquired, or renovated state-owned buildings use bird-friendly windows and lighting.

Free-roaming cats: Domestic cats result in more bird mortality than any other direct human-caused threat, with more than 2 billion birds killed by cats each year in the U.S. alone. Changing society's outlook on cats is a long and difficult process, but ABC's Cats Indoors program scored several tangible successes this year. Working with partners, we successfully advocated for the defeat or revision of bills in Hawai'i, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia that would have led to more unowned cats on the landscape. We also led successful efforts to remove feral cats at Sagg Main Beach in New York, where the cat colony was being maintained in the vicinity of Piping Plovers – a species listed by the state as Endangered.

Pesticides: In February, ABC and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility led more than 60 other nonprofit groups in calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to make major reforms in the way it regulates systemic insecticides. The proposal focuses on neonicotinoids (neonics), systemic insecticides often applied as agricultural seed coatings that have caused excessive honey bee deaths, native bee declines, and bird mortalities since their introduction more than 20 years ago. EPA has responded by opening up a public comment period on the petition and is seeking input from stakeholders and industry experts.

Advocacy: When progress on the Migratory Birds of the Americas Conservation Enhancements Act of 2023 (H. R. 4389) was delayed this year, ABC and National Audubon Society mobilized more than 200 partners to urge action, with a joint letter addressed to the legislation's sponsors. The Act was expected to increase funding for the National Migratory Bird Conservation Act, which is critical to reversing the staggering loss of nearly 3 billion birds in the U.S. and Canada since 1970. (You can help by asking your members of Congress to pass this critical legislation. Take action now.)

Other Industry Threats: After a SpaceX rocket exploded in April 2023, causing fires and littering habitats with fuselage, ABC and partners filed suit against the Federal Aviation Administration for failing to fully analyze and mitigate the environmental harms resulting from the SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy launch program at Boca Chica, Texas. The launch site sits next to prime habitat for protected species and migratory birds, including the Piping Plover. In spite of the danger to these habitats, wildlife, and people, the FAA has permitted SpaceX to launch 20 Starship/Super Heavy rockets each year for the next five years. 

Building the Bird Conservation Movement – Across the Americas

Underlying all that we do to conserve birds and their habitats is a commitment to the people and partnerships that make bird conservation possible. By building the bird conservation movement, and helping to make it as inclusive as possible, we inspire more people to take action for birds.

The ABC-led Bird City Network launched in 2023 – a major step forward in our work to inspire bird conservation action. This hemisphere-wide effort offers communities the opportunity to be recognized for their efforts to conserve bird habitat and reduce threats to birds. A partnership with Environment for the Americas, Bird City Network provides tools and resources via birdcity.org. The newest Bird City Program – Cuidad de las Aves Colombia – was launched with the recognition of their first pilot community, Santander de Quilichao, in late March.

The first Honeycreepers Celebration Day was celebrated in Hawai'i on August 8 – the result of efforts by ABC and partners to elevate awareness of this unique and endangered group of birds. The celebration stemmed from the 2022 introduction of a school curriculum about native Hawaiian honeycreepers, which inspired students to speak on behalf of the birds at several hearings in the state legislature. Clearly, the kids were convincing: the state's House of Representatives voted in March 2023 to recognize the event annually. 

In 2023, the Latin America Reserve Stewardship Initiative (LARSI), a project of ABC and the March Conservation Fund, assisted 10 ABC partner organizations in South America and the Caribbean with efforts to improve the management and financial sustainability of reserves that protect threatened birds. Supported activities included development of tourism infrastructure at the Bosque de las Nubes Reserve in the Dominican Republic and delivery of new vehicles to enable our Colombian partners to more easily patrol and manage bird reserves. Over the past nine years, LARSI has awarded more than $2.9 million to 24 conservation organizations in six countries.

ABC's inaugural class of eight Conservation and Justice Fellows completed their projects in 2023, including paintings, story maps, guidelines for community engagement, and insights about embedding Indigenous grassland management techniques into bird conservation. (Look for some of their stories on ABC's Bird Calls blog.) We're also proud that Jamie K. Reaser and J. Drew Lanham, editors of the inspiring anthology Dawn Songs: A Birdwatcher's Field Guide to the Poetics of Migration, directed the book's proceeds to support our fellowship program. We will be launching a new round of Conservation and Justice Fellowship Projects in 2024, on topics including Lost Birds, environmental education (SPLASh and Kirtland's Warbler), neurodiversity, and international partnerships for migratory bird conservation. 

In addition, ABC worked with Project Learning Tree to publish an activity collection for elementary school students called Together for Birds. We created a seed grants program called Story Seeds – awards of $1,000 to carry out independent research and create a single story about an aspect of inclusive birding, ethical bird conservation, or related topics. And, we began hosting inclusive birding events, including a celebration of Pride Month in June at the National Arboretum with our partner Latino Outdoors.


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