John James Audubon Conservation Network
Audubon Lifestyles is engaged in keeping the spirit of bird conservation alive in the name of the John James Audubon Bird Conservation Network, through a programs for communities, called the Bird Sanctuary Program.
In these tough economic times people might wonder: “Why should we care about birds?” In short, while the United States is blessed with diverse landscapes, a wealth of natural resources, and spectacular wildlife, we are also blessed with more than 800 different bird species, and we share these birds with people from around the world, as billions of migratory birds follow the seasons across oceans and continents. Birds have become a part of our national heritage. As Americans, our passion for nature is growing ever more evident, as wildlife watching generates $122 billion in economic output annually, and one in every four American adults considers themselves to be a "bird watcher".
John James Audubon was born on April 26, 1785. He grew to become a famous American ornithologist, naturalist, hunter, and painter. He painted, catalogued, and described the birds of North America in the early nineteenth century, and published Birds of America, a massive book containing 435 hand-colored plates of 1,065 individual birds. Audubon became the chosen name and symbol for a movement coined “The Audubon Movement" that began in the late 1890s to stop the unrestricted slaughter of birds. Early Audubon members pledged to shun the fashion of the day of wearing hats and coats adorned with bird feathers and wings, and to hunt birds for consumption only, rather than sport or trade. Early members also studied birds, improved their habitats, and fought for bird protection. Their activism fledged a broader conservation movement and eventually led to passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918. The Act ended trade in migratory birds, and was among the first federal protections ever afforded to wildlife.
The U.S. human population has skyrocketed from about 8 million to 300 million since that time, and as we have harvested energy and food, grown industries, and built cities, we have often failed to consider the consequences to nature. During our history, we have lost a part of our natural heritage—and degraded and depleted the resources upon which our quality of life depends. We have lost more than half of our nation’s original wetlands, 98% of our tallgrass prairie, and virtually all virgin forests east of the Rockies. Since the birth of our nation, four American bird species have gone extinct, including the Passenger Pigeon, once the world’s most abundant bird. At least 10 more species are possibly extinct.
Birds are bellwethers of our natural and cultural health as a nation—they are indicators of the integrity of the environments that provide us with clean air and water, fertile soils, abundant wildlife, and the natural resources on which our economic development depends. In the past 40 years, major public, private, and government initiatives have made strides for conservation. Has it been enough? How are birds faring?
We ask you to join us in continuing to reverse the damage to our nation’s habitats and protect our remaining natural landscapes—the foundation upon which our precious resources, our wildlife, and the lives of our children depend. Cooperative conservation efforts among the government, conservation organizations, and ordinary citizens—private landowners, hunters, and bird watchers—really are making a difference.
Audubon Lifestyles, a non-profit organization founded upon the Principles for Sustainability, is engaged in keeping the spirit of bird conservation alive in the name of the John James Audubon Bird Conservation Network, and has developed programs for communities and landscapes of all types called The Bird Sanctuary Program. Simply stated, the Bird Sanctuary Program programs provide direction, technical assistance, public attention, and national recognition for municipalities, communities and businesses throughout the United States who have embraced the importance of birds as part of our American Heritage, and who include “bird friendly” landscapes in the way their properties are being managed. This includes landscapes with a focus on the needs of birds during their nesting, migratory and winter seasons. The Bird Sanctuary Program is intended to be fun, educational, increase community and civic pride, and encourage public participation.
Portions of this story have been excerpted from the “State of the Birds” and can be found at www.stateofthebirds.org
Learn more about the Bird Sanctuary Program here
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