“Birds of a feather flock together,” goes the old saying. Birds of the same species may congregate for migration, feeding and protection from predators. Just as often, birds of different species, but with common interests, are found together in foraging flocks, or during migration, or to provide multiple eyes to scan for predators. The behavior of coming together to satisfy common interests also applies to organizations as they “flock together” to address joint concerns and opportunities.
The Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative (MoBCI) is an example of organizational flocking behavior. MoBCI was formed in 2003 as a partnership among organizations that care about birds and those that have legal responsibilities for bird conservation. It is an organization made up of organizations; at last count, 39 groups were committed to the partnership. MoBCI includes groups as diverse as the Audubon Society of Missouri, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Missouri Prairie Foundation and Ducks Unlimited.
MoBCI’s purpose is to conserve, restore and protect bird populations. Member organizations realize their interests in birds are varied, but know that these diverse interests can be channeled into a strong voice for action on behalf of birds and their habitats. Much more can be accomplished if they jointly pursue common goals. The communication among these groups also promotes appreciation of each organization’s particular interests in birds.
MoBCI is Missouri’s state-level partnership of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI). Like the NABCI, the Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative is about conserving birds across geopolitical boundaries, across taxonomic groups and across landscapes. Efforts are guided by key bird conservation plans, including the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, the Partners in Flight effort, North American Waterbird Conservation Plan, U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan, Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative and others.
Partnerships are only as good as the dividends they yield, so what exactly has MoBCI achieved? Plenty!
Since 2003, partners have sponsored the Missouri Bird Conservation Conference each August as a forum for communication among groups and a springboard for conservation action. Keynote speakers have challenged participants’ thinking and their approaches to bird habitat conservation, while project leaders have reported on conservation project successes. The 2006 MoBCI Conference will be held August 18–19, at the Holiday Inn Executive Center in Columbia. Details are available from the MoBCI Web site at www.MoBCI.org.
The MoBCI Web site and newsletter promote communication on bird habitat topics. Also, a member and project directory was developed to encourage dialogue across organizational boundaries and to highlight opportunities to work together. Three Missouri Governor’s proclamations have celebrated International Migratory Bird Conservation Day and the MoBCI partnership. And, a MoBCI Foundation was created to administer the group’s financial activities.
Perhaps most significantly, MoBCI has served as a conduit to channel financial support to bird habitat projects in Missouri. Since 2004, more than $400,000 has been provided to bird habitat projects through the MoBCI Grant Program. Sources of funds include the Missouri Department of Conservation (through the State Wildlife Grant Program) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (through the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program).
Birds tend to flock together when doing so is in their common interest. Now, the people behind bird conservation are doing the same thing. MoBCI assembles diverse voices speaking in unison on behalf of birds and their habitats. Meanwhile, it fosters understanding and appreciation among different organizations as they work shoulder to shoulder toward their common goal.
This partnership project completed 1,200 acres of prescribed fire management for the restoration of vital glade, savanna and woodland bird habitats in the St. Francois Mountain Bird Conservation Area. The Otahki Girl Scouts were a key partner.
A MoBCI grant contributed to this partnership, which purchased a backhoe attachment critical to planting giant cane.
Cane habitats are home to the state-endangered Swainson’s Warbler, but other bird species also benefit, such as hooded warblers, indigo buntings, northern cardinals, Louisiana waterthrushes and other songbirds.
This project is an initiative to maintain 10-15 percent of a 300,000-acre area in east central Missouri as a regenerating oak-hickory forest. The site is located in a globally significant conservation site, and dense young forest and edge habitat are expected to benefit local birds such as ruffed grouse and northern bobwhite quail, as well as migratory songbirds, including American woodcock, Bell’s vireo, Bewick’s wren, brown thrasher, bluewinged warbler, eastern towhee, field sparrow, great-crested flycatcher, prairie warbler, white-eyed vireo and yellow-breasted chat.
Partners include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Audubon Society of Missouri, Missouri Department of Conservation, and most importantly, private landowners. Nearly 40 new landowners have signed up.
This successful project coupled the resources of several governmental agencies, private conservation groups, private corporations and several businesses with the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant to restore 770 acres of marsh, bottomland hardwoods and wet prairie habitats at several sites in Henry and St. Clair counties.
Through the construction of small levees and water control structures, the project was able to use existing infrastructure (such as a pump station and pipeline purchased some years ago from the City of Clinton) and natural water flow patterns to maximize benefits and minimize costs. At the partner recognition, Conservation Department Director John Hoskins recognized the many partners whose contributions helped to secure a $50,000 NAWCA grant.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Ducks Unlimited, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MoBCI, Kansas City Power & Light Company, Sharp Brothers Seed Company, Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation, Aquila (electric power provider), Agri Drain Corporation, Missouri Waterfowl Association, Audubon Society of Missouri, DBY Specialties, Forrest Keeling Nursery, Grand Slam Waterfowl and the former Women’s Conservation Club were the partners that made the more than $300,000 wetland restoration project possible.
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