Going South

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Published on: Apr. 2, 2009

Last revision: Dec. 13, 2010

a connected contiguous green beltway of protected areas from Northern Mexico to Panama. By preventing habitat and landscape fragmentation, plants and all wildlife will be able to reproduce and roam naturally without being trapped in small pocket parks or losing habitat altogether.

As bird-lovers, nature enthusiasts, scientists, and watchers of backyard bird feeders, we need to help the local people in Latin America, who also love birds, to protect their national natural treasures and ensure Missouri’s songbirds thrive.

It has been my privilege spending the past year in my role as chairwoman of ACAA, working with the Department and Audubon chapters to develop an organization that can be a voice for bird conservation, but our work has just begun. The futures of many species of birds found in North America are in jeopardy. Our mission is to protect the tropical habitat where our birds spend the winter and become a force to reverse the decline of our Neotropical migratory birds. Our hope is to keep the birds we love so much coming back to our Missouri backyards.

Headed South

Habitat loss on breeding and wintering grounds is the overarching reason for bird population declines.

Species Population Location
Painted Bunting 9 million to 4.5 million (50% decline) Overwinters in Mexico, Central America and West Carribean
Grasshopper Sparrow 68,000,000 to 15,000,000 (78% decline) Overwinters in Mexico and Central America
Wood Thrush 28 million to 14 million (50% decline) Overwinters in Central America
Chimney Swift 27 million to 15 million (44% decline) Overwinters in Peru
Cerulean Warbler 710,000 to 560,000 (25% decline) Overwinters in Andes

Information obtained from 40 years of data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey Web site .

Start small, think BIG:

Everyone can help to reverse the decline of our migratory birds.

  • Use decals or sun catchers on windows. 100 million to one billion birds are killed each year in collisions with window glass. Bird strikes on windows is the number one man-made killer of birds. Read Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s article Make Your Windows Safer for Birds onlinr for more ideas.
  • Keep cats indoors. Cats kill an estimated 500 million birds each year. Check out the The American Bird Conservancy’s Cats Indoors! campaign at for more information and tips on how to “Make your outdoor cat a happy indoor cat.”
  • Make your backyard “bird-friendly.” Keep a pesticide-free habitat using native plants and provide birdseed and fresh water.
  • Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day in your area. While officially held the second Saturday of May each year, events and festivities often depend on location. For More information on IMBD, visit online or contact your local Audubon chapter.
  • Get out and go birding! Share your enthusiasm with the people you know and the businesses you patronize. Tell them the cool things you saw in their area and how important it is to protect habitat. Leave a birding calling card at the Bluebird Nut website.
  • Learn more about the Avian Conservation Alliance of the Americas online or by calling (573) 751-4115 ext. 3648. Contributions to the Missouri Tropical Bird Account are gratefully accepted through the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation at PO Box 366, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0366. Visit online or call (573) 634-2080 or (800) 227-1488 for more information.

Shade-Grown Coffee

A new variety of coffee plant has been developed that can grow in open sunlight instead of the shade of canopy trees that once were part of the natural forests. Shade-grown coffee grew in relative harmony with many bird species and produced some of the best tasting coffee in the world, especially that grown at higher elevations in the mountains. Sun-grown coffee eliminates the need for overstory trees, so many are being cut and sold for lumber, thus eliminating the habitat for most birds. For more information, visit the Rain Forest Alliance's Certified Coffee page or the Seattle Audubon Society’s Northwest Shade Coffee Campaign.

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