New Legislation Will Help Bring Birds Back Across the Western Hemisphere

Increased U.S. funding through the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act will benefit more than 350 bird species.

WASHINGTON – “Birds don’t recognize borders so we must work with our neighbors to protect them wherever they fly,” said Marshall Johnson, chief conservation officer, National Audubon Society. “This legislation will provide more places to nest, winter, and rest for the millions of birds across farms and forests in Ohio, through backyards and bays in Maryland, to the mountains of Colombia, and beyond.”  


Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced legislation this week to enhance the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act. The NMBCA is an innovative and cost-effective approach to the conservation of the more than 350 neotropical bird species in the U.S. that travel to Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Canada every year, such as the Scarlet Tanager, Purple Martin, and Baltimore Oriole. It supports the conservation of bird habitat as well as research, monitoring, outreach, and education.  


As a matching grant program, it catalyzes funding from a range of sources beyond the U.S. government. Since 2000, the U.S. has invested $80 million which has sparked an additional $310 million in matching funds from public-private partnerships. These funds have supported 658 projects in 36 Latin American and Caribbean countries, 40 U.S. states and territories, and provinces and territories across Canada. 


“There are so many incredible, yet imperiled birds we share across the Western Hemisphere, this legislation will promote shared stewardship of those birds and the places they need,” said Johnson. “The proposed bill would triple the investment NMBCA can make in on-the-ground habitat protection, restoration, education, and research. It also ensures those funds are leveraged by other governments and partners.”  


The Migratory Birds of the Americas Conservation Enhancements Act (S. 4187) specifically aims to:  


  • More than triple the authorized annual funding for the program from up to $6.5 million to up to $25 million by fiscal year 2028. 

  • Increase the available match of federal funds that can result in more, larger proposals and fewer barriers to participation by partners at a time when action is urgently required.  

  • Provide greater capacity to implement the grant program by raising the amount the Fish and Wildlife Service can allocate toward managing it.  


“These are the kinds of investments we must make to help recover the 3 billion birds lost on this continent alone since 1970,” added Johnson.   


Every spring, millions of birds travel thousands of miles from Latin America and the Caribbean to their breeding grounds in the U.S. and Canada, as far north as the Arctic. As winter approaches, these migratory birds make the long trip back south. Apart from being among the most stunning and awe-inspiring species enjoyed by birdwatchers, these more than 300 species of birds are also economically important for their role in pest control, seed dispersal, pollination for agriculture, and ecotourism. In the U.S., the Fish and Wildlife Service estimates there are 45 million birdwatchers, generating an economic output of $96 billion.  


In recent years, Congressional spending committees and the Biden administration have shown an increased commitment to funding the NMBCA program. To continue to grow the program, fulfill the unmet demand by applicants, and address urgent conservation needs for these species, Audubon urges Congress to take up and advance this legislation swiftly.  



Media Contact: Matt Smelser, 


About Audubon 

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more how to help at and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.