This year our conservation leaders, bird advocates, college students, ambassadors, volunteers, and scientists accomplished amazing things. Through early-December, more than 170,000 of us contacted decision-makers more than 1,085,000 times on behalf of birds. All of the accomplishments listed below come from the hard work and dedication of our members, chapters, volunteers, and staff. We're very proud of what we have been able to accomplish together over the past 12 months.
Keep reading to see the most important ways that our flock worked together this year.
We worked with state and federal lawmakers and courts to protect birds and the places they need.
Restoring the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Making It Stronger
In September the Biden-Harris administration not only restored the protections afforded to birds in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to levels last seen during the Obama administration, the administration took it a step further by also announcing a regulatory framework for industry so that they could be compliant with the law. Audubon has been advocating for strengthening the MBTA since at least 2015, so seeing the law both restored to its former strength and then some, is a testament to the advocacy work done by thousands of Audubon members over the years.
Bringing Climate Resilience to Infrastructure
The recent passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) brings hope for birds, ecosystems, and communities. The Act is a cornerstone of the Biden-Harris Administration, addressing long-awaited infrastructure needs with historic amounts of funding for Audubon priorities. Some highlights include:
- more than $8 billion to address drought in the West
- $7.5 billion for clean transportation infrastructure like EV charging stations, 1 billion for coastal resilience funding
- nearly $5 billion for clean energy demonstration projects, including on current and abandoned mine lands
- more than $600 million for USDA watershed programs
- $1 billion for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
- $1.9 billion for Army Corps Ecosystem Restoration projects
Supporting Bipartisan Federal Climate Legislation
In June, the United States Senate passed the Growing Climate Solutions Act. The bill seeks to address barriers to entry for landowners trying to access voluntary carbon markets. These markets have the potential to further support farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners in adopting sustainable practices like planting cover crops, prescribed grazing, and reforestation. In addition to other benefits, these markets may support natural solutions to climate change via voluntary land management practices that increase carbon storage or avoid greenhouse gas emissions.
Securing Water for Imperiled Saline Lakes
In September, Congressman Blake Moore (R-UT) and Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) introduced the Saline Lake Ecosystems in the Great Basin States Program Act to establish a scientific monitoring and assessment program to better manage conservation efforts for saline lake ecosystems and migratory birds in the West.
The Saline Lake Ecosystems in the Great Basin States Program Act would provide the U.S. Geological Survey—in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and tribal, state, academic, and nonprofit organizations—resources to conduct scientific monitoring and assessments to establish effective management and conservation efforts to preserve essential Saline Lake habitats within the Great Basin network.
Saline lakes within the Great Basin—which includes areas of Utah, California, Nevada, and Oregon—provide a critical network of habitats for millions of migrating shorebirds, waterbirds, and waterfowl. Declining water levels due to demand, drought, and environmental changes have dried out these important lakes within the Great Basin, threatening habitats, public health, and recreation.
Supporting Indigenous Stewardship in Canada’s Boreal Forest
This summer the Canadian government pledged $340 million CAD to Indigenous stewardship programs across Canada. This funding will support creation of new Indigenous Protected Areas and Indigenous Guardians programs that help protect Canada’s Boreal Forest. The boreal is home to the breeding territories of hundreds of bird species, and protecting that land from development and climate change is critical to protecting the birds that depend on it. Supporting Indigenous stewardship in Canada and throughout the hemisphere is a key part of the work of Audubon Americas now and in the future.
Supporting Bipartisan Climate Legislation in North Carolina
In October, North Carolina lawmakers passed House Bill 951 with large bipartisan majorities. The bill, which was signed into law a week later by Governor Roy Cooper, requires that the North Carolina Public Utilities Commission come up with a plan by the end of next year that uses the most affordable options to reduce carbon emissions from the energy sector by 70 percent, compared to 2005 levels, by the year 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by the year 2050. Thousands of Audubon advocates across North Carolina met with lawmakers via Zoom, sent emails, made phone calls, took elected officials on bird outings, and delivered petition signatures, all to speak up for bold action on climate.
Reinstating Key Management Plans for Greater Sage-Grouse in the West
After Audubon engaged its policy expertise and membership strength to push back on efforts to weaken federal protections, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced in May that management of western public lands would return to previously celebrated collaborative conservation approach that resulted in Greater Sage-grouse not being warranted for federal protection across its 11-state range. The announcement came after an alarming report from the United States Geological Survey showing that sage-grouse populations have declined 80 percent since 1965. In November, new leadership at BLM announced a review of conservation plans. Audubon is leveraging over a decade of experience to find solutions for sage-grouse, sagebrush country, and the people who depend on it.
Ending “Use It or Lose It” Water Management in Arizona
Nearly one thousand Audubon advocates in Arizona urged their legislators to support HB 2056, a bill that ultimately passed, giving surface water users like farmers an incentive to conserve water on their property. This legislation protects irrigators who submit a water conservation plan to the Arizona Department of Water Resources from losing their water rights for use in the future. Now, a water user who is doing the right thing and conserving can be assured that they are not abandoning or forfeiting the rights to the water they save. This will keep more water in Arizona’s rivers because water users are now incentivized to use only what they need. By creating a voluntary conservation plan, water users can more effectively manage their water, and the entire river system will benefit.
Supporting Critical Restoration Project in Louisiana
In March 2021, the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was released for the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion project. This diversion is one of the top priorities for Louisiana’s coastal restoration work and a focus of the Restore the Mississippi Delta coalition. The DEIS was a rare moment in the process in which public comment was needed. Audubon’s extensive supporters led all organizations, driving over 25,000 of the 51,518 public comments submitted to the state in support of this project.
Securing Funding and Support for Great Lakes Restoration
In January, past President Trump signed the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act into law, which will allow Congress to increase the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative program’s funding incrementally from $300 million to $475 million by 2026. This law is a huge win for the all those that depend on the largest freshwater ecosystem on the planet. For the past ten years, this initiative has been a proven success, funding more than 5,000 projects that have improved water quality and driven real and positive impacts for communities, wildlife, and economy across the Great Lakes region.
Protecting 300,000 Acres of Wetlands Throughout the Great Lakes Region
In March, Audubon Great Lakes announced the release of an ambitious new report Audubon’s Vision: Restoring the Great Lakes for Birds and People that offers a blueprint for how to best conserve indispensable coastal areas to address the threats facing the Great Lakes region. The report outlines Audubon’s conservation efforts, which includes 8 state-based, 12 region-wide, and 42 projects to restore or protect the highest priority 300,000 acres of habitat for birds and people over the next decade. As the largest freshwater ecosystem on the planet, the Great Lakes provide drinking water to 40 million people and its coastal habitats support over 350 bird species.
Making Climate Justice a Central Concern
In September, the State of Illinois passed the most equitable clean energy jobs bill of its kind in the nation. The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act sets Illinois on a path to 100 percent clean energy by 2050, while creating jobs for Black and brown communities that too often are on the frontline of our climate crisis. For three years, Audubon Great Lakes and more than 4,600 of its members mobilized as part of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition in support of the bill in Illinois.
Defending our coastlines against illegal sand mining.
Audubon won its lawsuit against the federal government to stop a Trump-era illegal rule that allowed sand mining on pristine, undeveloped coastlines. For decades, the Coastal Barrier Resources Act prevented removal or mining of sand from designated areas protected by the law; that sand nourishes beaches outside of the CBRA system and keeps coastal communities safe from storm surges and high tides. Audubon worked with nonprofit legal organization Democracy Forward on this lawsuit, and the fiscal conservatives at the R Street Institute wrote an amicus brief in favor of maintaining the Coastal Barrier Resources Act at its full strength.
Halting Land Giveaways to Mining Companies in Alaska
In April, the Bureau of Land Management announced it was reversing efforts made by the Trump administration to quietly open millions of acres of Alaska’s public land—known as D1 lands—to future mining and oil and gas development. Opening these lands to mining interests would have put these diverse ecosystems, which support major salmon streams, caribous calving grounds, and nationally and internationally recognized Important Bird Areas, at risk.
Fostering Bipartisan Support to Protect a Critically Important Watershed
The Delaware River Watershed is a complex system of forests, rivers, marshes, and urban landscapes, covering 13,500 square miles and 2,000 rivers and streams across Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
In April, U.S. Representatives Antonio Delgado (D-NY-19) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1) announced the formation of the Congressional Delaware River Watershed Caucus. The caucus will serve as an informal, bipartisan group of members of Congress dedicated to issues related to the Delaware River watershed and its landscape-scale programs focused on water quality and quantity, ecological restoration, and conservation. The watershed provides life-sustaining resources to a wide array of birds, from the Saltmarsh Sparrow, Golden-winged Warbler, and Wood Thrush to the Ruddy Duck, Red Knot, and American Black Duck, and it supplies drinking water to more than 13.3 million people.
Our programs elevate smart ideas and help them achieve impact at scale.
Reinstated Three National Monuments
In October, the Biden-Harris administration restored protections for three national monuments—Northeast Canyons and Seamounts off the coast of New England, and Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah—that the previous administration had shrunk or opened up to commercial exploitation.
In 2017 the Trump administration downsized Bears Ears by 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante by nearly 50 percent. And in 2020, President Trump signed a proclamation to open the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument to commercial fishing. This rollback increased the risk of seabirds getting hooked on fishing line or caught in a net and reduced the amount of fish available for them to eat. Audubon’s Seabird Institute was instrumental in uncovering that Maine’s recently restored populations of Atlantic Puffins rely on this monument to stock up on fish in winter months. The reinstated protections mean that these areas will be safe for birds to forage for fish in the coming years.
Restoring Federal Safeguards to Globally Significant Wetlands
In January 2021 Audubon and conservation partners filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s unlawful 2020 attempt to revive a massive project known as the Yazoo Pumps that would drain Mississippi Flyway wetlands that support more than 28 million migratory birds annually. In response to the lawsuit, in November the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) restored its 2008 Clean Water Act veto of the Yazoo Pumps, effectively halting the project and ensuring some of the nation’s richest habitats are protected once again.
Audubon engaged more than 93,000 scientists, conservation and social justice organizations, citizens, and Audubon members to deliver comments opposing the project. Audubon and partners also developed and shared with EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers a suite of nature-based solutions that would provide effective flood relief for vulnerable communities while benefitting birds and other wildlife.
Delivered Water to the Parched Colorado River Delta
From May through October this year, 35,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water—about 11 billion gallons—made its way from the U.S.-Mexico border to the river’s fan-shaped terminus 100 miles away. It is the first time since a brief period in 2014 that the Colorado reached the sea. Because of the tireless advocacy by Raise the River, a binational alliance of six conservation groups including Audubon, and a series of delicate negotiations between the U.S. and Mexico, the delta will see more of this in the future: by 2026 it will receive 210,000 acre-feet of water in total.
These water deliveries have real impact. After the 2014 pulse of water and some targeted water deliveries to restore riparian habitats, the delta bloomed in response: Bird abundance rose 20 percent and avian diversity increased 42 percent, showing even a modest amount of water can make a big difference.
Securing Water for Great Salt Lake Wetlands
In October, the Utah Division of Water Rights approved applications to deliver water to Farmington Bay of Great Salt Lake via the Jordan River. An innovative partnership is laying the groundwork to voluntarily share water for the lake to meet crucial needs for people, birds, and other wildlife.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Rio Tinto Kennecott, Central Utah Water Conservancy District, National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, and Utah Reclamation Mitigation and Conservation Commission collaborated to achieve this important step in addressing Great Salt Lake’s declining water levels. Through two donations of water rights, up to approximately 21,000 acre-feet of water annually could be delivered to Farmington Bay over the next ten years.
Keeping water flowing to Great Salt Lake’s wetlands and open water habitats is vital to maintaining important natural areas of international and hemispheric importance for birds, while also benefiting people.
Helping Black Skimmers Nest Again on the Gulf
For the first time in 10 years, Black Skimmers successfully fledged chicks on the Louisiana mainland, thanks in part to a recent project to restore beaches in the southwestern corner of the state.
In late July, Audubon biologists located a Black Skimmer nest “scrape,” or a depression in the sand, containing four eggs along a Cameron Parish shoreline restoration site near Holly Beach. By mid-August, three skimmer pairs had initiated nesting in the area. A dedicated set of stewards and volunteers protected the birds from beachgoers throughout the summer and early fall, and the final chick fledged in September.
Launching a Bird-friendly Forester Program
This year, Audubon’s Connecticut and New York regional office, along with Audubon Vermont, launched the Audubon Forester Training and Endorsement Program to help create high-quality habitat at scale. More than 180 foresters in 19 states attended the first two training webinar series launched in May 2021. The program will grow a national network of professional foresters who, once endorsed, can connect with landowners and work together to prioritize habitat for birds and other wildlife. Foresters in the program learn about birds in decline, and landscape and stand-level planning and management to improve forest habitat diversity.
Taking Regenerative Agriculture to Market
In April, Audubon and Panorama Meats, the largest producer of organic grass-fed, grass-finished beef in the U.S. announced a one-million-acre regenerative grassland partnership—the largest such program in the country. The commitment will create individual habitat management plans with every family rancher in the Panorama Organic network through Audubon’s Conservation Ranching Initiative.
The Audubon Conservation Ranching Initiative seeks to enhance the stewardship of grasslands for the benefit of birds, as they have suffered significant decline over the past 50 years due to the loss of U.S. grasslands to widespread development. The initiative empowers consumers to support programs that restore bird populations via conservation practices by selectively purchasing beef nationwide from Audubon-certified farms and ranches, including Panorama Organic and other participating brands.
Starting Restoration on Crab Bank, a Critically Important Barrier Island
After Audubon South Carolina secured the necessary funding, including a grant from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Army Corps of Engineers has begun reconstruction of Crab Bank. The restoration should be completed by the end of the year, in time for the start of the 2022 nesting season.
Historically, the protected barrier island served as one of the last remaining safe critical nesting area for thousands of shorebirds and seabirds in South Carolina. After heightened erosion caused by a series of severe storms, the island experienced its first year on record of no nests in 2018. Dredge material from Charleston Harbor is being used by the Army Corps of Engineers to restore the island to approximately 30 acres of valuable high ground. After the birds arrive, Audubon will partner with a coalition of local groups to monitor the island, host a live video feed of nesting, and steward the island for years to come.
Keeping Sprawl Out of Environmentally Sensitive Areas
In 2019, legislation in Florida mandated the construction of 330 miles of new turnpikes through some of Florida’s most sensitive environmental areas and important rural farmland areas, effectively prying them open for future development and sprawl. But after months of meetings and important policy work, Florida state senator Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart), chair of the Transportation Committee, introduced Senate Bill 100, which repeals the earlier mandate.
Audubon worked diligently to make sure this legislation enshrined in the statute new language requires that Department of Transportation takes into consideration the protective recommendations from prior task forces that did environmental assessments of the highway projects, and include some of the most environmentally protective guidelines for highway planning and design ever prescribed in Florida, in the event the turnpikes are proposed again in the future.
Celebrating the Completion of a 30-Year Restoration of the Kissimmee River
On July 29, Audubon Florida, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the South Florida Water Management District celebrated the 40 miles of restored river and floodplains, and more than 25,000 acres of restored wetlands along the Kissimmee River, the largest functioning restoration project in the world. The Kissimmee River once stretched 103 miles in length, curving through Central Florida as a haven for wildlife, and its two-mile-wide floodplain was regularly inundated by seasonal rainfall, which provided important habitat to fish, wading birds, and other species.
Following restoration, Lake Kissimmee is expected to rise one and a half feet, storing water to feed the river during the dry season and rehydrating another 20 square miles of dried marshes. The river’s floodplain will flood seasonally and the river will meander again in order to replicate its natural path.
Securing $35 Million for Gulf Coast Birds
In March, the Deepwater Horizon Trustees announced nearly $100 million in new Gulf restoration projects, including almost $35 million specifically to support bird populations that are still recovering from the oil spill 11 years ago. Several of the projects selected for funding are included in Audubon’s vision for restoring the Gulf of Mexico.
Among the projects proposed is the Bird Nesting and Foraging Area Stewardship project, which will support coastal bird stewardship across four Gulf states. Other projects to support birds include restoring, protecting, and managing critical nesting islands like Chester Island in Texas, the Chandeleur Islands in Louisiana, Round Island in Mississippi, and Dauphin Island in Alabama. Finally, another new project will identify and remove marine debris at key “hotspots” on the Gulf Coast, where birds and sea turtles are at risk of ingesting or getting entangled in marine debris such as discarded fishing line, nets, or traps.
Delivering More Than 80 million Gallons of Water to the Drying Rio Grande
In order to address the Rio Grande’s crippling drought and one of the driest water supplies in over 50 years, Audubon is doing its part to create solutions that work for people and the birds that rely on a healthy flowing river. Through long-term funding support from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, Audubon released more than 80 million gallons of water into the Rio Grande in an effort that is tightly coordinated with water managers and biologists to ensure effective and efficient use. Audubon secures this water through voluntary leases of water rights from water users. For our farming communities, this means an ability to manage through crop shortfalls—to come out the other side of a growing season with the farm intact and hope for future revenue. For our river this means an ability to survive drying and associated stresses to riverside plant and animal communities.
Advocating for Marine Protections
In January, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA for short, announced it will expand the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary to nearly triple its current size. Situated on salt domes rising up from the seafloor, Flower Garden Banks is one of only two marine sanctuaries in the entire Gulf of Mexico. Its brightly colored coral reefs are an important feeding ground for seabirds like Northern Gannets and Magnificent Frigatebirds.
Restoring Grasslands from Marginal Grazing Land
Audubon Dakota successfully launched the Conservation Forage Program that aims to restore 18,000 acres of marginal cropland back to grassland in North Dakota to improve forage availability and quality. These grassland acres will benefit the landowner and livestock, as well as grassland birds and native wildlife, while protecting North Dakota's air and water quality for future generations.
Saving 100 Percent of Tricolored Blackbird Colonies
Each spring and summer, Audubon California works with landowners and community partners to protect Tricolored Blackbirds across the state. This year that collaboration helped save 100 percent—170,000 birds in total—of the Tricolored Blackbird colonies nesting on agricultural fields. In years of drought, the Tricolored Blackbird's native habitat becomes even more limited, making the success of our program essential to the species' survival. This year, the largest colony detected was estimated to host around 30,000 birds.
Protecting One of the Last Undeveloped Barrier Islands in North Carolina
Hutaff Island, one of North Carolina’s last privately owned undeveloped barrier islands, will be conserved forever thanks to a partnership between Audubon North Carolina, NC Coastal Land Trust, and the Hutaff/McEachern family, funded by conservation philanthropist Tim Sweeney.
Hutaff is a 2-mile long ribbon of pristine beach and saltmarsh located between Lea Island and Topsail Beach to the north and Figure 8 Island to the south. Conserving this wild and uninhabited place in perpetuity will keep the island’s natural inlets and dynamic ecosystems intact, providing critical habitat for sea turtles, vulnerable beach-nesting birds like Black Skimmers, and a host of other rare and threatened wildlife.
Launching the Audubon Americas Program
After a year of analyzing our past work and other successful programs throughout Latin America, Audubon launched its Audubon Americas program to tackle full life-cycle conservation across the hemisphere. Audubon Americas will work mainly in Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, and The Bahamas, focusing on regenerative agriculture and protecting key sites in the Americas that support both migratory and resident bird species. Learn more here.
Protecting One of North America’s Most Imperiled Bird Species
In response to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposal to list the Lesser Prairie Chicken as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), 22,000 Audubon members voiced their support for extending further protections to these birds who whose home range includes parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico. The listing will prohibit anyone from harming the birds either directly or indirectly, and it requires the development of a recovery plan for the species and the identification of critical habitat. New federal investments and incentives for landowners resulting from the listing decision will make our grassland healthier, improve the infiltration of groundwater, sequester carbon, and make the rangeland more resilient overall. This is good for the bird and for ranchers, farmers, and communities who depend on these resources.
We secured important victories to help build a sustainable climate future.
Demonstrating How Helping Birds Can Also Help Fight Climate Change
This summer, Audubon scientists reported in the new Natural Climate Solutions report that you can protect birds and fight global warming at the same time. The researchers studied ecosystems across the country that are critical to both carbon storage and to birds, both now and under future climate change, and found that these regions often overlapped. Combined, the priority areas studied already store over 100 billion tons of carbon, and, if climate-smart strategies are implemented, have the potential to sequester up to twice as much carbon annually as they do currently.
The report says that by conserving, managing, and restoring these priority areas, the U.S. could realize up to 23 percent of its Paris Agreement commitment to reduce emissions, while also helped imperiled birds across the hemisphere.
Pairing Solar Energy and 3,000 Native Plants in Colorado
This summer Audubon Rockies and Jack’s Solar Garden celebrated the first full growing season of the pollinator native plants at this solar energy site. Located in Longmont, Colorado, Jack’s Solar Garden features more than 3,200 solar panels that create a 1.2 megawatt community solar garden. It’s also the largest commercially active agrivoltaics system currently researching crop and vegetation growth in the United States. Audubon Rockies partnered with Jack’s Solar Garden and United Ecology to plant a living fence of more than 3,000 native plants around the periphery of the solar array.
Restoring Wetlands Along the Connecticut Coast
After years of planning and fundraising, Audubon Connecticut and others broke ground for a major restoration project at Great Meadows Marsh, a globally significant Important Bird Area, and part of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge. The project will restore up to 33 acres of salt marsh and other important coastal habitat. Great Meadows Marsh contains the largest block of un-ditched salt marsh remaining in Connecticut.
Audubon Connecticut, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are partners in this restoration. In addition to managing the construction, over the next few months Audubon will offer opportunities for the community to get involved, primarily through planting up to 170,000 native grasses and shrubs in spring.
Stopping Oil and Gas Leases in the Arctic Refuge
On June 1, 2021, the Biden Administration announced it is suspending oil and gas leases and all associated activities in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge until it can complete “a comprehensive environmental analysis” of the leasing program. Protecting the Arctic Refuge has been a central part of Audubon Alaska’s work over the last decade.
Halting Oil and Gas Development on Alaska’s North Slope
On August 18, 2021, a federal court judge reversed the Trump administration’s environmental approval for ConocoPhillips’ proposed Willow Master Development Plan on Alaska’s North Slope. In her decision, U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason said the Trump administration’s approval of the project under the National Environmental Policy Act was flawed because it failed to thoroughly analyze potential greenhouse gas pollution and it didn’t sufficiently consider legal protections for the Teshekpuk Lake wetlands complex, which are used as a subsistance resource by local communities.
Going 100 Percent Solar
Audubon Arkansas and the Little Rock Audubon Center is the first non-profit in the state of Arkansas to be 100 percent powered by renewable energy. The Little Rock Audubon Center is now home to a 35-kilowatt solar power plant, which was constructed by Scenic Hill Solar and designed to meet the center’s total electricity demand. The center also will feature a Solar Learning Lab to provide community education opportunities on solar power technology.
Making Wind Power Safer For Birds
When the Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM) issued its Record of Decision approving the Vineyard Wind I project off the coast of Massachusetts, that approval came with serious measures reduce impact to migratory birds, including siting the project to avoid the most important offshore habitats for birds. Audubon and partners worked extensively with BOEM to create a framework for understanding how offshore wind farms affect seafaring birds.
In turn, BOEM is requiring Vineyard Wind to develop a monitoring program that includes pre- and post-construction avian surveys, installation of radio telemetry receivers within the project area, the deployment of radio transmitter backpacks to species of concern that may interact with the project, and the use of additional monitoring technologies as they become available.
Audubon is local everywhere. Our chapter network and state offices were critical to protecting and restoring the places that birds need to thrive.
Supporting Passage of Illinois Bird-friendly Building Law
In July, Illinois took an important step to minimize the impact of our built environment when Governor Pritzker signed the Bird Safe Buildings Act (HB 247). The law requires bird-friendly design to be incorporated into the construction and renovation of state-owned buildings in Illinois. This new law will require the use of bird-friendly construction techniques for all new construction or renovation of Illinois state-owned buildings. At least 90 percent of the exposed façade material on new state buildings will be need to be made of glass that helps stop bird collisions. It will also require that, when possible, outside building lighting is appropriately shielded to protect wildlife.
With this new law, Illinois joins Minnesota, New York City, and several cities in California who have passed similar bird protection legislation.
Launching Bird-Safe Philly with Audubon Mid-Atlantic and Wyncote Audubon
As result of the October 2020 mass-collision event in downtown Philadelphia, Audubon and Audubon Mid-Atlantic and local partners came together to form Bird Safe Philly. The coalition focuses on a number of strategies and programs, including Lights Out Philly. Lights Out Philly kicked off in spring of 2021 with Philadelphia City Council members introducing a “Lights Out” resolution recognizing the problem of collision, the Bird Safe Philly collaboration, and the value of Lights Out. The resolution was subsequently unanimously passed.
Helping Get Lights Out Programs to Top 15 Metro Areas
This year, Tropical Audubon Society and Audubon successfully launched the Lights Out Miami, fulfilling a goal that Audubon’s Bird-Friendly Communities team set for itself to establish Lights Out programs in each of the largest 15 metropolitan areas in the United States. Joining Miami this year in starting Lights Out programs are Fort Worth, Texas (Texas Conservation Alliance and Audubon Texas) and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (read below to learn about Bird-Safe Philly).
Bridging the Gender Gap in Forest Stewardship
ForestHer NC, a workshop series aims to bridge the gender gap in forest stewardship, has reached 1,000 people across the state, empowering landowners to better manage their land for birds and wildlife. As a result of a collaboration between Audubon North Carolina and many partners, including N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission and N.C. State Cooperative Extension, ForestHer is a chance to connect and learn from experts, most of them women foresters and biologists, including founding board member and Audubon Biologist Aimee Tomcho.
Launching Share the Shore Award Program in New York and Connecticut
This year, Audubon’s Connecticut and New York office announced the first-ever Share the Shore Award winners, celebrating two coastal communities with long histories of making a big impact on vulnerable birds like Piping Plover. The two winning communities were the City of West Haven, Connecticut and the Town of Hempstead, New York. With more than 1,500 people asking for more Share the Shore actions in their towns, Audubon is reaching out to local decision makers and offering to help them do more in their own community, from beach cleanups, to fencing and monitoring nesting sites, and improving wildlife habitat.
Installing Towers to Help Track Migratory Birds in South Carolina
In June, Audubon South Carolina partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Duke Energy to unveil a Motus tower at Caesars Head, near Greenville, SC. Two more Motus towers have since been constructed on Audubon properties: Silver Bluff Audubon Center and Sanctuary and Audubon Center and Sanctuary at Francis Beidler Forest. These towers join the expanding network across the state that Audubon and its partners have built. The data these towers collect depicts a more detailed picture of the full life cycles of Audubon priority birds like Piping Plover and Wood Thrush.
Building a Brand-New Island for Terns in the Niagara River
A new island for nesting Common Tern welcomed its first wave of visitors this spring, just months after the island was completed. Tern Island, which is about one-third of an acre and was built with a rock berm base and a sand/pea-gravel mixture for terrain, took about half a year to complete and is part of a collection of habitat islands, including Frog Island and Strawberry Island, near and in the Niagara River. Buffalo Audubon Society, Audubon New York, Audubon Great Lakes, and New York Department of Environmental Conservation collaborated on the design and construction of the island. Volunteers with Buffalo Audubon monitored the site and reported 150 pairs of Common Terns during its inaugural year.
Installing Nesting Platforms for Common Terns in Maryland
In spring 2021, Audubon Mid-Atlantic and partners Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Maryland Coastal Bays Program piloted an innovative project to provide artificial nesting platforms for Common Terns, which are listed as endangered by the state of Maryland. Workers installed a floating island, constructed of wooden raft units, in a remote location in Chincoteague Bay on Maryland’s Atlantic coast. During its first season the platform attracted 23 pairs of Common Terns to nest; those pairs hatched 36 chicks.
Passing Proclamations, Resolutions, and Ordinances for Bird-Friendly Municipalities
Over the course of the year, state offices, centers, chapters, and campus chapters across the country successfully obtained native plant or bird-friendly proclamations, resolutions, or ordinances passed in local municipalities, including:
- The Mesilla Valley Audubon Society in New Mexico worked with the Las Cruces city council and county commission to declare April as “Native Plant Month.”
- Redbud Audubon Society appealed to the Board of Supervisors in Lake County, California to have April declared “Bird Appreciation Month.”
- Princeton University’s campus chapter secured a proclamation from the Princeton Birding Society designating this year’s Earth Week as “Bird-Friendly Campus Week.”
- Vancouver Audubon Society in Washington got the mayor to declare Earth Week as “Bird-Friendly Week 2021.”
- Litchfield Hills Audubon Society in Connecticut worked with their town to have April declared “Bird-Friendly Plants Month.”
- Pickering Creek Audubon Center in Maryland worked with the Talbot County council to declare Earth Week as “Native Plants Week.”
- St. Louis Audubon Society in Missouri, worked with the St. Louis County Council to pass a Lights Out Resolution in Missouri
- Bridgerland Audubon Society in Utah secured a proclamation from the mayor of the town of Logan to declare Earth Week as “Lights Out for Birds Week.”
- Patterson Park Audubon Center in Baltimore got the mayor to sign off on a Native Plants Week proclamation and the Center was also recognized with a resolution from the City Council of Baltimore.
- Gaylord Nelson Audubon Society obtained a proclamation from the Eau Claire City Council designating the town as a “High Flyer” Wisconsin Bird City” and encouraging pet owners, especially those who own cats, to keep them indoors to protect birds.
- New Hope Audubon Society worked with the county and the city to pass Bird Friendly Durham resolutions in North Carolina.
- High Country Audubon Society worked with the town of Boone to reaffirm the town as a Bee City USA Affiliate which requires the adoption of a host of pollinator-friendly commitments including habitat programs and integrated pest management measures.
- Wake Audubon worked with the city of Raleigh on a Lights Out policy, ensuring municipal building lights will be turned off at night during migration to protect birds.
- T. Gilbert Pearson Audubon Society helped pass a Native Plants Week proclamation in Greensboro and changed city ordinances to require native plants for certain development projects.
Helping New Orleans Become the First City in the Gulf to Commit to Zero Carbon by 2050
In May the New Orleans City Council voted to adopt regulations that will enact the Renewable and Clean Portfolio Standard, establishing the framework by which the city’s electric utility must transition to net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 and a zero-carbon portfolio by 2050. This decision is the result of more than two years of engagement with the City Council and Entergy New Orleans by Audubon Delta and partner organizations in the Energy Future New Orleans (EFNO) coalition.
Protecting Dunes From Off-road Vehicles in California
The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Complex is the most extensive remaining dunes system on the West Coast, home to migratory shorebirds and many endangered species, including one of the largest breeding sites for Western Snowy Plovers on the Pacific Coast. After years of advocacy by Audubon California and local Audubon chapters—and more than four decades of policy inaction—the California Coastal Commission voted to phase out off-highway vehicle (OHV) access at Oceano Dunes over the next three years to protect this biodiversity hotspot.
Maintaining Water Quality in the Rockies
In July, the Colorado Water Conservation Board voted unanimously to approve temporary instream flow lease to support 43 stream miles of benefits to Big Beaver Creek and White River in Rio Blanco County. In this extreme drought year, water is needed in these waterways quickly, and advocacy by Audubon members in the Rockies region made sure that this could happen for two vital waterways in Colorado.
Renovating Important Educational Facilities
Audubon Vermont renovated the century-old Education Barn ensuring that the building will remain a part of the rural, agricultural landscape well into the next century. The Barn is the heart of the Green Mountain Audubon Center. The upgrades to the Barn will enhance and improve our ability to offer access to nature, to more people year-round. Local Audubon chapter Green Mountain Audubon Society owns the land and the Barn, and they helped raise the funding for the project.
Advocating for Critical Stewardship Programs in Wisconsin
Wisconsin legislature's Joint Committee on Finance voted to reauthorize the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program for four years at $32 million dollars per year. Since 1989, the stewardship program has worked to preserve the natural areas and wildlife habitat that birds need in Wisconsin—including more than 370,000 acres in or near Important Bird Areas, high-priority conservation sites that provide essential bird habitat. Hundreds of Audubon members across Wisconsin spoke up for Knowles-Nelson to their state lawmakers on the importance of land and water conservation to Wisconsin’s birds.