Always Coming Home

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Published on: Jul. 15, 2013

who also are working to keep them coming back home.

Partnerships Embrace Continental-Scale Bird Conservation

Partnerships beyond Missouri borders allow Conservation Department staff to contrib­ute to science and management efforts with bird conservationists throughout the vast ranges of many migratory birds.

“One of the fun things about bird conservation is knowing that people love birds in their back­yards as well as in remote wildernesses,” says Conservation Department Ornithologist Brad Jacobs. “Hondurans, Missourians, Canadians, and other people throughout the Americas share that same love, but just express it in different languages.”

Conservationists from throughout the Americas work together through the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI). Guided by sound science and effective man­agement, NABCI’s goal is for populations and habitats of North America’s birds to be protected, restored, and enhanced through coordinated efforts at international, national, regional, state, and local levels.

In Missouri, the state-scale equivalent is the Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative (MoBCI), a coalition of more than 60 organizations and agencies that work to conserve birds and their habitats in Missouri.

“By working together, we aim to deliver the full spectrum of bird conservation through regionally based, biologically driven, landscape oriented partnerships. ‘All bird conservation,’ as opposed to single species management, is fast becoming the norm in many states,” says Jacobs.

Conservation-minded bird watchers, hunt­ers, business owners, academicians, state and federal professionals, and citizens are all com­mitted to working together to sustain healthy habitats for the benefit of resident and migrant birds in Missouri and for the enjoyment and economic benefits of Missouri citizens. In the past 10 years, MoBCI has directed more than $3 million to bird conservation projects in Missouri. Partners have contributed more than $1.2 mil­lion in matching funds.

“This investment has made thousands of acres of bird habitat work possible on public and private lands throughout Missouri,” says retired Wildlife Diversity Chief Gene Gardner. “Partnerships help coordinate and direct the efforts of the Conservation Department more effectively to help ensure that Missouri has healthy, sustainable bird populations and habi­tats for future generations to enjoy.”

Bird groups that benefit from MoBCI con­servation efforts include neotropical migrants, songbirds, shorebirds, waterfowl and other waterbirds, and resident birds such as bobwhite quail, greater prairie chickens, and ruffed grouse.

In addition, many of the partner organizations, including Department staff, work with bird con­servationists not just in Missouri, but through­out the full seasonal cycle of some bird species’ vast breeding and wintering ranges. Missouri partnership connections across landscapes, state boundaries, and continents benefit birds throughout the year.

MoBCI partners, the Conservation Department, and the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation help to protect Missouri birds year-round, such as the northern pintails in Canada and cerulean warblers in Guatemala, through habitat enhancement projects. Together, they protect and conserve important migrant bird wintering habitat in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, moun­tain forest on Guatemala’s Caribbean slope, and breeding habitat in the pothole lakes of Canada.

“Donations to the Foundation’s Missouri Tropical Bird Fund support conservation activities in the region between eastern Mexico and Panama, where 95 percent of Missouri’s breeding bird spe­cies migrate to overwinter,” Jacobs says.

The Foundation is a partner of the Avian Conservation Alliance, which includes seven National Audubon Society chapters, the Department, and other national and interna­tional partners, including the American Bird Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Agency for International Development, and individual Central American and Mexican gov­ernmental agencies and nongovernmental organizations that promote conservation and environmental education.

Two projects focus on habitat protection of 7,000 acres of forests in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula near Cancun and in the state of Izabal, Guatemala. The Department and the Foundation also support staff training, capacity building, education, public outreach, publications, and ecotourism in and around critical conservation lands in Mexico and throughout Central and South America.

The Foundation also is helping to fund the first comprehensive book on the birds of Honduras, which will be published in English and Spanish. This resource will encourage conservation and ecotourism in that country — both to the ben­efit of Missouri migrants.

Learn more at mobci.org and mochf.org.

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