This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
American Bird Conservancy: Providing Resources In the Fight to Save Birds


Gavin Shire H


ospitals can teach those of us in the conservation community a lot about how to organize and


prioritize. Each of their departments has a specific function designed to save lives. The ER is for patients who are in real trouble right now and need on-the-spot care immediately. Other departments deal with ailments that, if left untreated for any length of time, will lead to serious consequences. Others focus on preventive care. There are also the research labs that develop new drugs and treatments, and the diagnostic labs that analyze samples to determine root biological causes. Each of these departments has different needs with different time constraints, hence different approaches and staff with different skill sets.


At American Bird Conservancy, we prioritize and organize the fight to save birds in much the same way, based on an array of threats with varying degrees of urgency, impact, and scale. To help visualize this, we have created the Bird Conservation Pyramid. The pyramid is divided into three sections, each representing a different type of bird conservation need.


At the top of the pyramid are the rarest species—those that, if we do not do something to save them right away, will quickly go extinct. Most of these species have been identified by the Alliance for Zero Extinction (www.zeroextinction.org), an international consortium of more than 60 organizations, including ABC, whose name speaks for itself. AZE species are endangered and reduced to just one last place on earth. There are 95 AZE bird species in the Americas, 16 of which are here in the U.S. (all but one in Hawaii). ABC acts with partners in Latin America and at


“What this book offers is an argument for hope. Americans love their birds and are justly proud of them, and our country has the resources and ingenuity to find practical solutions.”


– Jonathan Franzen, ABC Board Member


home to ensure that the last remaining sites for these birds are protected by creating private or state-owned reserves and community protected areas, or even fencing tracts of land in to keep out invasive species.


In the middle of the pyramid, we address the habitat needs of a suite of declining species. Those on the U.S. WatchList of birds of conservation concern have needs that, if not addressed, may, before too long, cause these birds to become endangered. The scale of this work is massive, requiring the cooperation of large federal, state, and private landowners. We accomplish much of this through entities called Joint Ventures, partnerships that can address the habitat requirements of birds at a landscape scale, and can influence management of these landscapes to benefit birds.


At the bottom of the pyramid are all birds at risk from human-caused threats such as pesticides and lead, outdoor cats, communication towers and wind farms, and bad fishing practices. This work focuses on regulatory change, both at a policy and grassroots level, which can take many years to


implement, but whose effects are often immediately felt once enacted.


The pyramid sits on a foundation of research and awareness-building that aims to ensure we have the best


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science on which to base our actions, and a public that understands the issues better and is willing to make or accept change.


Bird conservation can be an intimidating subject, but ultimately it comes down to saving the beautiful and fascinating creatures that we love, have a responsibility to protect, and want to keep around for our grandchildren to enjoy. In almost all cases, we not only know what the problem is, but we know how to fix it, too. Last year, ABC wrote and produced the book The American Bird Conservancy Guide to Bird Conservation (Chicago University Press). Packed full of beautiful photographs, specially commissioned artwork, and readily understandable text, it is the clearest and most authoritative book on bird conservation ever produced. As world- renowned author and ABC Board member Jonathan Franzen wrote, “What this book offers is an argument for hope. Americans love their birds and are justly proud of them, and our country has the resources and ingenuity to find practical solutions.” If you would like to understand more about the ABC Bird Conservation Pyramid and what we all can do to save birds for future generations, this book is a good place to begin.


Learn more about the American Bird Conservancy at www.ABCBirds.org.


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