Definition: The Bird Conservation Movement (BCM) is the accumulation of efforts from birders, educators, parents, students, farmers, policy makers, businesses, and the community as a whole to increase efforts and results in bird conservation.
We will be featuring more detailed articles about how to enhance the BCM, but here are some introductory ideas to get started. We’d love to have feedback on this and will hopefully be having an ongoing dialog on this movement, since it effects everyone, not just birders.
1. Promote the right organizations and companies (large and small)
There are many organizations out there that focus on the environment but not as many with a strong focus on bird conservation. We wish to support those like the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society, American Bird Conservancy, etc. and companies with solid environmental plans and/or products that are good for birds.
2. How to help birds by using your money (smartly)
The organizations listed above always appreciate donations but there are other ways to help birds with cold hard cash: purchase Duck Stamps, pledge for birding events like Big Days, or even buy a child or classroom a bird guide.
3. How to help birds without using money
Citizen Science is the new way to volunteer! You can Join various bird counts, lead a bird hike, or take a child birding with little cost. Often spreading the word about birds and conservation is also free of charge!
4. Involve farmers through easements, landscaping, bird-friendly projects
Farmers have a lot of power when it comes to bird conservation for the simple fact that they own a lot of land. By working with farmers to conserve even small portions of their land or use less pesticides helps birds. The more farmers see how beneficial birds are and that it is in their best interest, the more that will wish to help.
5. Convince developers to use intelligent (and profitable) landscaping
New developments whether residential, commercial, or industrial can earn great publicity (and better profits) with creative and native landscaping.
6. Involve landscapers to promote native planting and natural habitat creation
Each Spring we shudder as we see the lawn chemical vans patrolling the streets. Landscapers and lawn maintenance companies could benefit greatly by promoting chemical-free (and safer) lawns and lower-maintenance yards. Native landscaping has much more appeal and is much more environmentally friendly.
7. Show homeowners how important natural habitats are for their own backyards
If the landscapers are hesitant to push for it, homeowners can create their own personal nature preserves. This is what we have done and continue to work on. By reducing the amount of lawn, we have less to mow and less waste. You can add composting, brush piles, and more to a variety of native plants to create a wonderful place for all kinds of wildlife. The cost and effort is negated by the savings on lawn care and the reward from your work.
8. Focused bird conservation through citizen science projects
Focused Bird Conservation is a newer concept (and a new term since we just came up with it) but the point is relatively simple: engage birders in specific projects dedicated to specific birds. Instead of going on a bird club field trip, perhaps the bird club should conduct a month-long study on the migrating birds at a specific park or preserve. The added focus will get birders more excited, especially since their efforts are for bird conservation.
9. More birders leads to more conservation concept
The Bird Conservation Movement is centered around this concept so it is worth mentioning again. The more non-birders we can get into birding – through convincing, educating, or bribery (just kidding) – the more bird conservationists we’ll have.
10. Positive action: non-political, non-judgmental, no doom-and-gloom, no over-dramatization, no marketing trickery (solid marketing is fine)
No matter our political party we all have a vested interest in the health of the Earth. For us, bird conservation is not political except in the sense of Federal organizations like the National Wildlife Refuge System and others. Obviously, certain political decisions effect bird conservation but the final result is always up to the people.
11. Focus on local future with realistic goals and methods of reaching these goals
Many (most) people undoubtedly have a hard time thinking 10, 20 years down the road. Heck, a lot of people are uncertain what they’ll be doing an hour from now. But with bird conservation it is vital to create projects that are doable and that have results that can be seen. One of the most rewarding feelings is after you’ve weeded the garden and all the native plants stand out wonderfully. This is how conservation projects should be. If volunteers and the community can see improvements, they’ll be more likely to continue the work.
12. Reach out to teachers and parents to educate young people about birds and conservation (and the environment as well, but in ways that are not boring or misleading)
Education is extremely important and also grossly underutilized when it comes to bird conservation. Most kids love birds but know nothing about them and if not exposed to the cool things about them, they never will grow that appreciation. Conservation can be taught at nearly any age and can be done outside, the greatest classroom.
13. Reach out to young birders to show them they are welcome in the birding community and that birding is not geeky or old fashioned.
The young birders are the future conservationists so it is important to ensure their lasting involvement in all aspects of birding. Using advertising geared towards young birders (and future birders) will help as well as birding clubs dedicated to these birders.
14. Make a special effort to involve minority groups in outdoor activities, especially birding.
Minority groups are always welcome as birders but are poorly represented. Following the thoughts from John C. Robinson’s book Birding for Everyone: Encouraging People of Color to Become Birdwatchers is a good place to start.
This is just the beginning of our push to a full-fledged movement of bird conservation. Look for follow-ups of all these points and more. And if you haven’t yet, please subscribe so you don’t miss out!