Blackburnian Warbler. Photo: Shirley Donald/Audubon Photography Awards

A Sneak Peek into Audubon's New Migratory Bird Initiative

Listen to a recording of our Migratory Bird Initiative Telephone Town Hall.

Earlier in the year, National Audubon Society held a telephone town hall with Gary Langham, former Vice President & Chief Scientist of Audubon, and Jill Deppe, Senior Director of the brand new Migratory Bird Initiative. On the call was a group of some of our most passionate and loyal members. Focused on Audubon's Migratory Bird Initative, our members were able to get a sneak peek of our newest conservation science project and have their questions answered by Langham and Deppe. 

More than half of the birds in North America spend over half the year outside of North America. Therefore, we cannot conserve the birds that we love without looking at the bigger picture of where they live throughout the entire year. Langham and Deppe spoke of the “Golden Age of Migration Science” and the many advances in recent years that have revealed the mysteries of migration to scientists across the world. Unfortunately, the data that has been collected on migration science is scattered. The Migratory Bird Initiative seeks to synthesize existing migratory science data for at least 520 North American migratory bird species into one location. Our scientists will strive to examine and compile data for all 520 species throughout their entire annual cycle: breeding, wintering, and migrating across the entire hemisphere. No small feat!

Working in partnership with many other bird-conservation organizations, Audubon will bring the data together to fill knowledge gaps and create interactive maps and online portals. The hope is that the synthesized data will lead to actionable conservation campaigns, activate our vast Audubon network, and support public policy efforts. As Deppe put it during the call, we want to “protect all migrating birds and keep common birds common.” The Migratory Bird Initiative may also illuminate new places in need of conservation based on synthesized data.

Langham spoke of the Migratory Bird Initiative as the “most important thing [he's] ever worked on” at Audubon. He explained that the project has the potential to empower our members, engage everything that we do, across all of our programs, and make them better. Both Langham and Deppe are honored and excited to work on the initiative.

Our scientists expressed how Audubon members can get involved in the Migratory Bird Initiative. Continuing to participate in community-science programs like the Christmas Bird Count, Great Backyard Bird Count, Climate Watch, and Breeding Bird Survey are paramount to the success of our new Initiative. Audubon members can also join our Lights Out campaign or serve as a beta tester for our new migration science online portal. Langham encouraged everyone on the call to "do your hobby and aid science". 

To learn more about the Migratory Bird Initiative, the biggest threats to migrating birds, changes in bird migration trends, and the latest on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, please listen to the recording of our telephone town hall below:

If you’d like to sign up to participate in our Lights Out campaign or serve as a beta tester for our new Migratory Bird Initiative online portal, please feel free to reach out to Lindsay McNamara, Great Egret Society Manager, at greategretsociety@audubon.org for more information.

Audubon's Migratory Bird Initiative will gather in one place all of the migratory bird science information generated in the Western Hemisphere. Audubon and its partner organizations will map the places different bird species need to thrive and weave a unified approach to bird conservation across country, state, and chapter lines. With that knowledge we can make historic, well-informed decisions about where to invest, especially internationally, to protect birds.

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