Sen. Whitehouse Endorsement Boosts Migratory Bird Conservation Bill in Senate

Migratory Shorebirds and Warblers Would Benefit, Among Other Birds

Contact: Jennifer Howard, Director of Public Relations, 202-888-7472

(Washington, D.C., February 15, 2018) In good news for migratory birds, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has endorsed the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA), one of the nation's most important bird conservation laws. Now called the Migratory Birds of the Americas Conservation Act, and co-sponsored by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), the bipartisan bill (S. 1537) would provide a higher level of funding to help conserve species like Red KnotWood Thrush, and other migratory birds, many of which are in rapid decline.

Red Knots and other shorebirds by Mike Parr

The bipartisan bill would provide a higher level of funding to help conserve species like Red Knot (shown), Wood Thrush, and other migratory birds, many of which are in rapid decline. Photo by Mike Parr

“This bill will strengthen important conservation efforts to aid beautiful and ecologically important species,” Sen. Whitehouse said. “I'm proud to lend it my support.”

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) thanks Senator Whitehouse for cosponsoring the legislation and his leadership for migratory bird conservation. “This legislation is urgently needed to help the Americas' diminishing migratory bird populations,” said Jennifer Cipolletti, ABC's Deputy Director of Policy.

The 2016 State of the Birds Report found over one-third of our songbirds are now in decline or facing serious threats. “Effective conservation projects like those supported by the NMBCA can help us turn that around,” Cipolletti said.

The NMBCA provides a lifeline for bird conservation, encouraging habitat protection, education, research, monitoring, and other work to provide for the long-term protection of neotropical migratory birds. These species breed in the continental United States or Canada and spend the winter in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Songbirds, landbirds, waterbirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, raptors, and others all benefit from the NMBCA.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service receives many more requests for high-quality conservation projects than it can fund at current maximum authorization levels, set by Congress at $3.9 million per year. Under the new version of the NMBCA, that amount could increase to $6.5 million.

The NMBCA grant program has been a catalyst for bird conservation and partnership development throughout the Western Hemisphere, actively promoting the long-term conservation of neotropical migratory birds and their habitats. Since 2002, NMBCA has supported more than 500 conservation projects in 36 countries, on more than 4.2 million acres of critical bird habitat.

“Without the NMBCA, we would be losing habitat for migratory birds such as Golden-winged Warbler at an accelerated and unacceptable rate,” said Andrew Rothman, ABC's Migratory Bird Program Director.

NMBCA-funded projects deliver economic benefits as well. “Birds are big business,” Cipolletti said. “They generate billions in recreation, wildlife watching, and related jobs.”


American Bird Conservancy is 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.