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Forest Service Celebrates Bird Migration

The beauty of watching a flock of birds migrating on the wing is a sight many enjoy.  Protecting their habitats to help them on their journeys is part of the work that U.S. Forest Service employees across the nation do every day.

“Forests and grasslands managed by the U.S. Forest Service are critical to maintaining migratory bird populations, but Forest Service involvement goes well beyond the boundaries of Forest Service lands,” said John Sinclair, National Wildlife Program leader. “By working in local, regional and international partnerships, we conserve migratory bird species and their habitats across the Americas.”

One such partner is, Wings Across the Americas, which invests in international conservation efforts. They use Forest Service experience and expertise to improve bird conservation at home and abroad. Scarce federal dollars are leveraged through partnerships with other agencies, non-governmental conservation organizations, local communities and private/corporate sources to ensure long-term sustainable projects that benefit birds throughout their range.

The recovery of the Kirtland’s Warbler, a small song bird, is one of the success stories of the Forest Service International Program’s work with Wings Across the Americas.  As recently as 1987, the Kirtland’s Warbler population was at an all-time low. Only 167 singing males were left.

Female Kirtland’s warbler on a nest - Huron-Manistee National Forest.  Photo by Ron Austing.

Female Kirtland’s warbler on a nest - Huron-Manistee National Forest. Photo by Ron Austing.

“The Forest Service and partners forged strong alliances to save this species,” said Sinclair. “All together, they addressed conservation of the Kirtland’s Warbler through sound management practices for the bird and its habitats in the United States and overseas. The result was staggering.  By 2012, there were already more than 2,000 singing males.”

As part of ongoing partnerships and Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, federal agencies like the Forest Service, Environment for the Americas and the Bureau of Land Management are working together to train Latino youth in community outreach and bird research techniques through the Celebrando las Aves Playeras (Celebrate Shorebirds) Project.

These young interns will be working in Washington, D.C., Oregon, Alaska, Colorado and California on a variety of projects including conservation education, habitat restoration and species monitoring.

Celebra las  Aves Playeras (Celebrate Shorebirds) Interns practicing their shorebird bird identification. Photo by Susan Bonfield, Environment for the Americas

Celebra las Aves Playeras (Celebrate Shorebirds) Interns practicing their shorebird bird identification. Photo by Susan Bonfield, Environment for the Americas

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