How We’re Bringing Back the Birds

We’re focusing on the birds in greatest need of conservation, but this effort is just as much about people. With precedent-setting collaboration that spans the hemisphere and leads to the needed research, strategies, conservation action, and outreach, we’ll save migration and bring back the birds.

American Redstart, Larry Thompson

Beginning To Bring Back the Birds

Our effort to “bring back the birds” was launched at the 5th international Partners in Flight (PIF V) meeting in Snowbird, Utah, in 2013. The meeting was the perfect place to launch such a collaborative effort: It brought together more than 240 conservation professionals representing 120 agencies and organizations and 14 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Here, the PIF V participants started the process of developing comprehensive conservation business plans, with input from experts both north and south, to identify full life cycle actions that support conservation of migratory birds and their habitats.

Partners in Flight participants develop plans to “bring back the birds.” Photo: Bob Johns

Building the Foundation

We’re focusing on 96 migratory species most in need of conservation across the Western Hemisphere, based on the 2014 WatchList and additional key conservation opportunities.

An effort as big as saving migration requires a strong foundation. To structure the effort, we have organized the species around nine initiatives, based on suites of birds that share geographies in Latin America and the Caribbean during winter. This approach allows us to emphasize the importance of linking conservation of wintering areas with substantial ongoing efforts—such as Joint Venture partnerships—to conserve habitat on the birds’ breeding grounds.

We’re assembling the best scientific information, mapping core habitats and engaging partners, assessing threats, developing solutions—and implementing those solutions on the ground.

The stage is set for scaling up our conservation efforts to match the need required by our declining bird populations. In fact, we’re already taking flight.

Our partner ProAves banding Cerulean Warbler. Photo: ProAves

Collaboration for Cerulean Warbler 

Illustrating the kind of collaboration required to save migratory birds, ABC and its partners advanced forest habitat protection and management in five U.S. states, Colombia, and Ecuador in 2014 to benefit Cerulean Warblers. This work started well before our “Bringing Back the Birds” effort, but illustrates the comprehensive approach needed to save migration.

Those activities included a long-term effort by ABC, Colombian partner ProAves, and the Fondo para la Acción Ambiental y la Niñez that led to the establishment of a critical six-mile long by half-mile wide conservation corridor in Colombia that provides important winter habitat for Ceruleans.

Meanwhile, on the Cerulean Warbler’s breeding grounds, the ABC-supported Appalachian Mountain Joint Venture worked with partners in West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky to develop suitable forest habitats using targeted management practices and complete the second field season of a project assessing Cerulean Warbler response to new breeding habitat enhancements.

Data obtained will help to produce a revised and expanded version of management guidelines, enabling conservationists to consistently apply best practices to benefit the species.