New Federal Songbird Stamp Explored as a Means to Boost Bird Conservation

The 2020-2021 Federal Duck Stamp artwork. Credit: USFWS

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is exploring the possibility of proposing to federal decision-makers that a Federal Songbird Stamp be created to complement the existing Federal Duck Stamp.

“One of the reasons waterfowl have made such a remarkable comeback is because of conservation action supported through the Duck Stamp, more formally known as the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp,” said Steve Holmer, Vice President of Policy for American Bird Conservancy (ABC) “This federally mandated annual waterfowl hunting license is structured so 98% of the purchase price goes directly to wetlands conservation. We think a similar stamp to benefit migratory bird conservation could be one way to help reverse the loss of almost 3 billion birds in the U.S. and Canada since 1970.”

The Duck Stamp, which can be purchased by hunters and nonhunters alike, authorizes waterfowl hunting by the purchaser and grants the holder free entry to any national wildlife refuge. The program has raised over $1 billion for wetlands conservation and supported acquisition of more than 6 million acres for the National Wildlife Refuge System since it was established in 1934. Despite its name, the Duck Stamp is not connected to the U.S. Postal Service or used for sending mail, but it is valued as a collector's item.

If proposed and enacted, the Songbird Stamp could feature different migratory songbirds on a new stamp each year, just as the Duck Stamp features waterfowl. Funds from Songbird Stamp sales could be used to support migratory songbird conservation and the National Wildlife Refuge System.

In May 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced revisions to the Duck Stamp artwork requirements, including a permanent theme, “celebrating our waterfowl hunting heritage.” Starting in 2020, each Duck Stamp artwork entry must now “include an appropriate waterfowl hunting scene and/or accessory.” This revision has received mixed reviews; some perceive the inclusion of hunting imagery to be divisive and not representative of all who purchase and support the Duck Stamp. The Songbird Stamp could provide an alternative option for those who feel excluded by Duck Stamp's hunting focus.

We are requesting feedback from the conservation community to determine if there is broad support for the Songbird Stamp initiative. Please take a moment and complete this short survey (shareable link: to provide your feedback.


Media Contact: Jordan Rutter, Director of Public Relations, 202-888-7472 | | @JERutter
Expert Contact:Steve Holmer, VP of Policy, 202-888-7490 |

American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving 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, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).