Migratory Birds: A Brief Conservation History


Their songs float through the trees. They decorate our skies as they journey across
vast landscapes and oceans. They add color to our world. Migratory birds connect people with nature. They also contribute important environmental
benefits. Pollinating flowers… controlling insect and rodent populations… spreading seeds… However, this natural treasure can be exhausted. In the 1800s overuse of natural resources
was the norm. Millions of birds were killed for food, feathers,
and scientific collection. The Great Auk, Labrador Duck and Heath Hen
all went extinct. During the early 19th century,
unregulated killing of migratory birds put many species at risk The passenger pigeon went extinct in 1914 Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge was
created in 1903 as the first refuge dedicated to the protection of migratory birds. To prevent further species loss the U.S. and
Great Britain – on behalf of Canada – signed the Migratory Bird Treaty on August 16, 1916. The conservation movement was gathering momentum
and gaining influence. Treaties were signed with Japan, Russia and
Mexico in the following years. And the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty
Act of 1918 provided a powerful tool that codified and affirmed our commitment to international
cooperation for bird conservation. We share birds with our neighbors, yet birds
don’t see or understand political boundaries. And those boundaries shouldn’t impede their
conservation. Migrating birds bring nations and people together.
We celebrate the many successes that we have achieved – and we look ahead to the future
of bird conservation. YOU can be a part of the celebration, too.
Find out how you can take every day actions to help conserve our feathered friends, or
look for an event near you.

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