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Bird Conservation: What You Can Do

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There are many things that you can do in your private or professional life to further the conservation of birds and their habitats. While any individual's contributions will vary with available time and money and with location, in the aggregate our individual contributions can and do make a real difference. More than any other group of animals, birds have already benefitted substantially from the actions of individual citizens through volunteer monitoring, habitat improvement, participation in local and other larger conservation projects, and many other activities. Listed below are a few simple actions that you can take to help out.

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Familiarize yourself with contemporary bird conservation issues

Here are some suggested sources of information that will provide a good background for exploring the many opportunities potentially available to you:

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Participate in volunteer monitoring activities that help to document the status and trends of bird populations

There are many opportunities in this area, depending on your level of interest, ability to commit time, and level of expertise in bird identification. Sources of further information include:

  • Citizen Science Portal is the web page of a growing group of volunteer monitoring projects, sponsored by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. Most of the individual projects provide for Internet-based reporting of data.
  • The Breeding Bird Survey is the United States' largest and longest running survey of breeding birds, including a roadside survey of 4100 permanent active routes. Over 2500 skilled amateur birders and professional biologists participate in the program each year.

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Take steps to enhance and maintain good bird habitat on your own property or through similar projects with your employer.

Even small, low cost improvements can help provide critical breeding, wintering, or migratory stopover habitat while affording other environmental benefits such as lowered requirements for watering, fertilizers, and pesticides; reduced air pollution from less grass mowing and from more trees that produce oxygen and reduce carbon dioxide; and improved habitat for other animals such as butterflies and amphibians. Good sources for further information include:

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Participate in a local or state bird conservation initiative

Sources of information to assist you in identifying such opportunities include:

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Promote bird conservation in other local conservation or environmental quality activities, such as watershed or estuary management

Even though the principal focus of such efforts may be water quality or other environmental issues, there may be significant opportunities to conserve or enhance habitat of importance to birds. To learn about such activities in your area, check out:

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Consider other personal or lifestyle actions that can benefit birds

  • Purchasing bird-friendly products. The most notable example is shade-grown coffee, produced in a manner that conserves rain forest habitat in the tropics that is vital for both local and migrating or wintering bird species. To learn more, check out the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center's fact sheet on shade-grown coffee.
  • Keeping your cat indoors. Studies have shown that free-roaming cats kill hundreds of millions of birds (and other animals) every year in the U.S. and Canada. To learn more, check out the American Bird Conservancy's web site on cats.
  • Donating your old binoculars and other equipment to Birder's Exchange. They will be sent to Latin America and the Caribbean to support bird monitoring and education projects that will benefit both local birds and North American birds migrating through or wintering in those countries.
  • Minimizing household pollution which affects birds and other animals as well as human health. To learn more, check out EPA's At Home and in the Garden web site.

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