From the President
Data Drives Our Work to the Next Level
Audubon's climate science, our advocacy network, and our growing membership are coming together to create conservation on an impressive new scale. As you'll see in this annual report, major conservation efforts have been undertaken across the United States and throughout the hemisphere. This is truly One Audubon in action.
We are using data to analyze our membership, understand our supporters, and find out what moves people to action. We are reaching new audiences online and engaging with people globally around the need to protect birds. We are putting the most powerful mapping and data visualization tools into the hands of conservation leaders from every corner of the Audubon network as well as our international partners.
But that's only part of Audubon's story. We're also paying attention to business. This year we raised $7.5 million more than we did three years ago, and spent nearly $4 million, or 21 percent, less on fundraising and administration. That allowed us to direct $9 million more to programs and deliver an operating surplus of $1.7 million.
If you've read The Audubon Ark, Frank Graham's 100-year history of Audubon, you see cycles repeating themselves—but never an Audubon that truly leverages its network. We're in the midst of writing a new chapter that creates a new model for an interconnected, unified network that delivers conservation results through state offices, educational Centers, and an unparalleled Chapter-based network. The data alone doesn't matter; what we do with it does, and the true test will be using it to make all of Audubon stronger, smarter, and better positioned for the massive challenges facing birds, people, and the planet.
David Yarnold President & CEO, Audubon
From the Chairman
It's now starting to happen, at scale and with greater impact.
Yes, after months and years of planning, Audubon is leveraging the best aspects of our world's information technology to deliver significant conservation results. We have all seen big productivity gains in our world from a connected infrastructure of digital information. Audubon is now making large strides to harness these innovations in its field research, citizen science, data analytics, and conservation programs using enhanced platforms, applications, and leading-edge data algorithms.
These techniques are being applied to solve the critical problem of adapting our tried-and-true conservation approach to the new human-caused challenges of increased habitat disturbance and accelerated climate change. These technology-driven programs yield faster results with greater impact as they are based on solid science and the realities of field data. And most important, it provides measurable results. This strategy also critically plays to our strength, because it uses our unparalleled national network of Chapters, Centers, and members.
As we enter 2014, our 108-year-old organization has never been in better health. The accomplishments made in the recent past give me both a great sense of pride and, more important, a tremendous hope for the future of our efforts. Audubon's leading role in the fight to preserve and enrich the vital systems of conservation biology has now been fully restored. This success is only due to your continued support. For this, I thank you and eagerly look forward to tomorrow.
Holt Thrasher Chairman of the Board, Audubon
How We Work: Our Plan
Audubon's Strategic Plan Comes to Life
We work toward common flyway conservation goals and coordinate our resources and expertise.
It's been two years since we hit the ground with our Strategic Plan, and Audubon is seeing conservation results at an unprecedented scale. Aligning the Audubon network along shared strategic goals has given us a greater impact everywhere we work.
Restoring America's Gulf Coast
Audubon was critical in passing the RESTORE Act—ensuring maximum funds will flow to Gulf Coast conservation in the wake of the BP oil spill. Now we're establishing a Gulf-wide stewardship plan with 21 shovel-ready projects already lined up across five states.
Data-driven victory in Alaska
Science and advocacy efforts culminated in a huge victory when our recommended map was accepted by the Department of the Interior in its final management plan for the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, protecting 11 million acres from energy development.
Safeguarding California wildlife from toxic lead
Thanks in part to extensive advocacy work by Audubon California, this year California became the first state to ban the use of lead ammunition in hunting.
Protecting Panama Bay
Audubon is working with local organizations to safeguard Panama Bay, a globally important IBA critical for migrating shorebirds and surrounded by development. This year the Panama Supreme Court reinstated the bay's protected status—a major step toward ensuring the bay remains a safe haven for birds.
Local advocacy for smart energy siting
Audubon Chapters and state offices are using GIS technology to identify the safest areas for renewable energy siting. Golden Eagle Audubon Society in Boise, Idaho, used GIS mapping to identify and advocate for an alternative route for a transmission line that would have impacted Greater Sage-Grouse habitat.
Saving Western Rivers
A coalition of organizations led by Audubon is scoring major conservation victories by mobilizing activists to protect water rights and save habitat along western rivers threatened by drought, invasive species, and unsustainable water management.
Protecting bird habitat across the hemisphere
Audubon and its Nicaraguan conservation partners are using data from birds fitted with geolocators to home in on the most important Wood Thrush habitat to conserve—from the species' breeding grounds in the United States to its wintering grounds in Central and South America.
How We Work: Our Strategies
Maximizing Our Impact
We focus our work on five specific conservation strategies, and put our goals within reach.
Putting Working Lands to Work for Birds & People
Best management practices on ranches, farms, and forests are the key to survival for more than 150 species of threatened grassland and forest birds. By partnering with private landowners, Audubon can help ensure a bright future for these birds and a healthy landscape for future generations.
Sharing Our Seas & Shores
Coastal areas are a magnet for birds and people alike. Unfortunately, overfishing, development, pollution, and sea-level rise put 60 percent of coastal birds at risk. Audubon's growing army of volunteer caretakers monitor nesting habitat. By incorporating marine sites into our IBA program, we can advance policies and practices that reduce threats to coastal birds and vulnerable seabirds.
Saving Important Bird Areas
Audubon has identified 2,676 Important Bird Areas in the United States, covering 380 million acres, and these join 2,204 IBAs in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada. Now we can harness the Audubon network to protect, restore, and advocate for these landscapes and the birds that depend on them.
Shaping a Healthy Climate & Clean Energy Future
Climate change poses an unprecedented threat to birds and biodiversity. Audubon is responding with an equally unprecedented combination of strategies, from supporting well-sited green energy to advancing policies to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the impact of sea-level rise.
Creating Bird-Friendly Communities
Whether they live in cities, suburbs, or rural areas, people can play a critical role in fostering healthy wildlife populations and communities. As the leading voice for birds, Audubon can inspire the one in five adults who watch birds to make lifestyle choices that add up to real conservation impact.
|Strategies||Pacific Flyway||Central Flyway||Mississippi Flyway||Atlantic Flyway|
|Putting Working Lands to Work for Birds & People||
Transforming the Central Valley
Tongass National Forest
Chiloé Island, Chile
Sagebrush Ecosystem * Hemispheric Grasslands & Prairie Birds
|* Bottomland Forests * Hemispheric Grasslands & Prairie Birds||Eastern Forests * Eastern Grasslands & Shrublands|
|Sharing Our Seas & Shores||
Coastal Stewardship: Pacific
Saving Seabirds: Pacific
Panama Bay, Panama
|Coastal Stewardship: Gulf||Coastal Stewardship: Gulf||
Coastal Stewardship: Atlantic & Gulf
Saving Seabirds: Atlantic & the Caribbean
|Saving Important Bird Areas||
Baja Peninsula, Mexico
|* Western Rivers||Mississippi River Delta||
Long Island Sound
|Shaping a Healthy Climate & Clean Energy Future||
Across all flyways:
|Creating Bird-Friendly Communities||
Across all flyways:
The Bottom Line:
118 Million Acres
64 Priority Species
Iconic bird species:
Iconic bird species:
Iconic bird species:
Iconic bird species:
How We Work: One Audubon
Visualizing Our Unrivaled Network
We join forces across national and state offices and Chapters, and accomplish our work on an unprecedented scale.
The flyways traveled by migratory birds each spring and fall inspire our model for organizational alignment. By connecting the work of the Audubon network—Chapters, Centers, national and state staff, volunteers, U.S. and international partners, and other supporters—along each of the flyways of the Americas, Audubon can weave a seamless web of conservation for both migratory and non-migratory species. By working toward common flyway conservation goals, we can have greater impact. And by coordinating resources and expertise, we can increase our efficiency across the network.
Audubon's 22 state programs give us a presence at statehouses and provide statewide leadership for Chapters and Centers. The state programs are a powerful force for programmatic alignment throughout the flyways.
Forty-four Audubon Centers introduce more than a million visitors each year to the natural world—and inspire them to help protect it.
Audubon's 463 Chapters are more than our face in communities from coast to coast; they drive our on-the-ground conservation work. Many of the most important Audubon milestones took flight from our Chapter members' dedication and passion for birds and nature. As full partners in our Strategic Plan, Chapters can be an even more powerful force for conservation.
Audubon's 23 sanctuaries encompass an incredible array of habitats and protect iconic landscapes for future generations.
Audubon collaborates with a network of large independent Chapters that serve as key players on our core planning teams.
Audubon Chapters 463
- Fewer than 1,000 members
- 1,000 - 3,000 members
- More than 3,000 members
- State Offices 22
- Centers 44
- Sanctuaries 23
21st Century Conservation
Mapping a Future for Birds
A powerful map platform revolutionizes how Audubon works.
Twenty-two million acres, 6 million breeding shorebirds, 400,000 caribou, 20 species of waterfowl, polar bears, beluga whales, walruses, wolves, Arctic foxes, wolverines. All of this was on the line a year ago, when the U.S. Department of the Interior opened the public comment period that would determine the fate of one of Alaska's most sensitive wildlife areas, the National Petroleum Reserve, a wilderness larger than the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and just as crucial to wildlife.
What was a conservation organization to do? Launch a letter–writing campaign, send public comments, partner with other powerful NGOs, lobby? Audubon Alaska did all of that. Then the group went one step further: It made maps.
Taking the Next Step
The maps overlaid geographic information system (GIS) data on many species and allowed Audubon Alaska to see, for instance, how high-density waterfowl nesting areas overlap with caribou calving areas. Those maps contained layers of geographic data that clearly illustrated what was at stake, and laid out the best options—assuming that there would be at least some oil development—for protecting critical wildlife habitat into the future. The maps made all the difference.
Audubon submitted the maps during the 2012 comment period to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. In early 2013 the agency chose its “preferred alternative,” which protects 96 percent of the areas Audubon recommended.
Now Audubon offices in 22 states, 44 education Centers, and 463 Chapters have the same power. Audubon has partnered with Esri, a company that supports global communities using GIS technology for, among other things, protecting the environment, disaster assistance, and humanitarian efforts. The partnership provides organization-wide access to Esri's ArcGIS software, making it possible for anyone in the extensive Audubon network to unlock data collected by nonprofits, government, academia, and beyond that would otherwise be inaccessible to them. That data can help us create powerful GIS maps that can inform decisions on local, regional, and national scales.
ArcGIS helps Audubon answer tough questions, democratize data, and create a culture of collaboration, and it will allow us to significantly increase our conservation results.
The Power of Data
Golden Eagle Audubon Society in Boise, Idaho, is using the technology in response to a transmission line project that threatened critical Greater Sage-Grouse habitat and the Snake River Birds of Prey area. The Chapter tapped into data collected by Idaho Fish and Game, then created GIS maps to illustrate the big picture, overlaying all the data so they could see where sensitive habitat and planned transmission lines would overlap. The Chapter then advocated for a better solution, and during the public comment period, it identified an alternative transmission line route that would safeguard sage-grouse and raptor habitat. In April the BLM released a preferred plan that mirrors those recommendations.
Other success stories are unfolding. Tucson Audubon is using the technology to help protect habitat for the endangered Yellow-billed Cuckoo; Eastern Cascades Audubon is looking at the overlap between raptor habitat and wind power projects; and in Pennsylvania the technology is helping to identify and preserve key wildlife habitat.
Audubon's Esri partnership puts the most powerful mapping and data visualization tools into the hands of conservation leaders around the world. It's unprecedented in conservation.
Belize Audubon Society is using Esri technology to create science-based management plans for 10 of the country's national parks.
21st Century Conservation
Citizen Science Goes Digital
Innovative technology enables an explosion of Audubon's crowd-science.
A hallmark of 2013 was new growth and energy in Audubon's range of citizen science programs. The increasing availability and use of technology is allowing citizen science efforts to grow, and to deliver results and impact faster and to more people than ever before.
The GBBC Shatters Records
This year the Great Backyard Bird Count went digital and global—and shattered every previous count record. More than 104,000 people from 107 countries identified a staggering 4,004 species in this year's count—an increase of 55 percent over last year. The innovations that led to this remarkable growth included integration with eBird, which allowed count participants from around the world to submit their sightings online. The eBird integration also resulted in more accurate data collection and dynamic visual reporting.
The Power of Apps
This past spring Audubon launched Hummingbirds at Home to harness the power of our growing army of citizen scientists for hummingbird protection. Audubon's first online, all-digital citizen science program allowed participants to use a free mobile app or microsite to document hummingbird sightings and record the birds' feeding behavior. The data collected in the program's first year will serve as a baseline for what will be an annual project. By collecting data over a period of years, Audubon scientists will be able to analyze trends and suggest ways people can help protect hummingbirds in their backyards and across their communities. Hummingbirds have evolved to migrate in synchronicity with the bloom of nectar-bearing flowers, but as flowers bloom and die before migrating hummingbirds arrive, it's become clear that climate change is a serious threat to these magnificent birds. Almost 10,000 people signed up to participate this year and reported more than 20,000 observations.
American Birds Soars Into the Future
In August American Birds, the storied Christmas Bird Count print publication, made the leap into virtual space, becoming Audubon's first citizen science email newsletter. The digital edition already reaches twice as many readers as the former print version.
Updating the Original Citizen Science Program
Audubon's venerable citizen science program, the Christmas Bird Count, got an update as well this year with the elimination of the participant fee and an upgrade to the online data reporting tool. These improvements to the 114-year-old program resulted in a 10 percent increase in participation and growth in the number of count circles. This rich dataset is being used to help Audubon tackle problems from climate change to habitat loss.
Conservation at the Next Level
This increasing use of technology allows Audubon to upgrade data collection, improve the sharing of results, and scale-up the size and scope of citizen science efforts to produce maximum impact.
More than 104,000 people from 107 countries identified a staggering 4,004 species in this year's Great Backyard Bird Count.
21st Century Conservation
We deliver our conservation message by utilizing diverse tech platforms.
Audubon is taking a lead in innovative communications and social media, developing creative online programming that calls attention to key issues and engages with conservationists and bird and nature lovers from around the globe.
More than 475,000 people have signed up for regular emails from Audubon, including our monthly e-newsletter and updates from around the network—a huge jump from the 100,000 people on our email list just two years ago.
Audubon's social media presence has grown by leaps and bounds. Audubon fans now number almost 100,000. With our engaging content, we earned more than 20 million impressions in the last quarter of 2013 alone, with each post being shared an average of 191 times. Audubon's first Facebook photo contest attracted more than 1,000 submissions in a single day.
With 44,000 followers, our Twitter presence generated 67 million impressions in the last quarter of 2013 and inspired 21,000 interactions. Followers like what we have to say; our tweets are re-tweeted an average of four times each.
Online Bird Cameras
Audubon continues to build on our partnership with the Annenberg Foundation's explore.org to live-stream birds in breeding and nesting colonies on the Maine coast.
Four cameras operated 24/7 to capture puffins, Ospreys, and terns. More than 4 million viewers saw puffin chicks hatch and fledge, watched baby Osprey learn to soar, and engaged with Audubon scientists and researchers through live online chats, videos, and blogs.
Website traffic increased steadily in 2013. Audubon averaged 350,000 unique monthly visitors with a yearly total of more than 4 million visitors, a 150 percent increase over 2012.
Our redesigned advocacy alerts reached more than 165,000 activists in 2013, bringing attention to a broad range of issues, including our efforts to combat climate change, the fight against old-growth logging in Alaska, the battle to protect the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and the push to ensure BP pays to restore the damages it caused to the Gulf Coast.
LinkedIn is becoming a valuable professional recruitment tool that allows us to reach highly qualified applicants from across the country. We are able to leverage our presence for greater online visibility in the human resources arena, and it is contributing to our ability to attract skilled professionals to the Audubon network. Audubon has almost 3,000 followers on this networking site.
Exiting the Highway
For the second year, Audubon and Toyota partnered on Exit the Highway, an online effort to encourage people to get off the highway and into nature. More than 136,000 people participated. Besides pledging to get outdoors, they shared their favorite destinations and posted photos.
With our engaging content, Audubon earned more than 20 million impressions on Facebook in the last quarter of 2013.
Pacific Flyway Gateway to the Arctic
Audubon is making a big impact in the Pacific Flyway. This year huge political victories—including the recent ban on the use of lead hunting ammunition in California, and 11 million acres protected from oil and gas drilling by the Department of the Interior in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska—demonstrated the immense power of the Audubon network. These high-profile victories, along with continued habitat restoration, advocacy efforts, and educational outreach across the flyway, prove that Audubon's strategic conservation efforts are making a difference for birds.
Many of these critical conservation efforts are supported by innovative mapping technology. Audubon's partnership with digital mapping giant Esri has enabled us to incorporate our sound science into layered maps that tell us where to most effectively focus our conservation efforts and communicate their importance to partners, government agencies, journalists, and funders.
From protecting Hudsonian Godwits on Chiloé Island in Chile, condors in California, Marbled Murrelets in Washington, and waterfowl in Alaska, Audubon takes a hemisphere-scale approach to bird conservation.
Pacific Flyway The Best Map Wins
Audubon's partnership with Esri is allowing us to create detailed maps that guide our conservation work. Maps built using scientific data to paint a clear picture of conservation needs and impacts in a particular area are powerful tools when advocating for funding, political action, and partnerships that will help us reach our strategic goals. This was never more evident than when the Department of the Interior (DOI) decided on a management plan for the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, designating more than 11 million acres—nearly half—of the reserve off-limits to energy development for the duration of the plan. Audubon Alaska and the national policy office helped shape the final plan using custom, detailed maps to recommend specific areas—most notably Teshekpuk Lake—for protection. Audubon activists and Chapter members submitted more than 40,000 letters and calls in support of strong wildlife protection in the Reserve—and this year we succeeded.
- The National Petroleum Reserve
- Areas unavailable for leasing
- Recovery locations of Brant banded in the Reserve. Lines draw symbolic connections.
Important Bird Areas
Audubon Alaska developed an innovative tool, using ArcGIS online, to assist with land management and conservation planning on the Kenai Peninsula. The tool builds layered geographic information, such as salmon habitat, IBA location, and developed areas, onto a web-based interactive tool. With this tool, local land trusts and other partners can identify the most important areas for conservation.
BIRDS Common Loon, Bald Eagle, Hudsonian Godwit
BOTTOM LINE Habitat conservation for birds across 6 million acres
Seattle Audubon Society and its conservation partners produced Esri maps layering state and federally protected forests, Audubon Chapter territories, and Marbled Murrelet range to demonstrate the need and capacity for protecting the bird's breeding habitat. The Marbled Murrelet, a federally threatened seabird, inhabits coastal waters and bays but nests up to 45 miles inland and only in old-growth forest.
BIRDS Marbled Murrelet
BOTTOM LINE Protecting critical old-growth habitat in Washington State
Audubon California built an interactive online map to highlight volunteer opportunities in Sharing our Shores projects from Washington to California. The map includes recovery beaches, planning-level recovery units, IBAs, Western Snowy Plover critical habitat, protected lands, coastal Audubon Chapters, and contact information for volunteer programs.
BIRDS Western Snowy Plover
BOTTOM LINE Protection for birds at more than 200 West Coast beaches
Audubon California developed an interactive mapping tool to assess and comment on proposed renewable energy projects in California. The tool enables Audubon to build a more robust understanding of potential impacts by displaying locations of proposed projects relative to locations, including IBAs, public lands, and observations of key species.
BIRDS Golden Eagle, Burrowing Owl, Tricolored Blackbird
BOTTOM LINE Improved understanding of potential impacts to key species throughout California
Innovative technology and our powerful network add up to big impact in the Pacific Flyway. —Mike Sutton, Vice President, Pacific Flyway
SPOTLIGHT ON THE NATIONAL PETROLEUM RESERVE
The largest piece of public land in the U.S., the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, is a hotbed of birds during the breeding season. The Reserve supports millions of nesting and migrating shorebirds and waterfowl, and provides critical habitat for migratory birds like the Spectacled Eider. Under the DOI's plan, 11 million acres of the 23 million-acre Reserve are off-limits to development for the duration of the plan, keeping important habitat intact while Audubon continues to advocate for permanent federal protection.
Pacific Flyway Highlights
California Bans Use of Lead Ammunition
Audubon California earned a big victory this year when Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 711—historic legislation requiring hunters to use non-lead ammunition. Scavengers that eat animal carcasses contaminated by lead bullets, including the endangered California Condor (above), are particularly vulnerable to poisoning. About 65 percent of wild condors tested have elevated levels of lead in their blood; more than 130 other wildlife species are similarly threatened. Audubon California lobbied heavily for the bill, working with partners in conservation, animal welfare, and public health. Audubon Chapters and members sent thousands of letters and messages to Governor Brown, urging him to sign the bill. The California law, the first state ban in the nation, could pave the way for other states and a possible federal ban.
Student Conservationists Restore Habitat
Audubon Chapters and Centers across the country are getting students involved in conservation work. With the help of a Toyota TogetherGreen Innovation Grant, the Audubon Society of Corvallis, Oregon, created the Student Riparian Stewards program. Students from four local schools designed and implemented a restoration plan for wetland and creekside habitat. They removed invasive plants, planted native species from seedlings grown in their greenhouse, and completed pre- and post-restoration monitoring that showed increased use of the area by native wildlife.