Throughout 2022, Audubon continued its rich tradition of advocating for and securing the space, clean air, and clean water that birds and people need to live and thrive. This past year, Audubon and the Audubon Action Fund helped more than 150,000 people make their voices heard, fighting for stronger climate actions in the Inflation Reduction Act, for Lights Out and Native Plant proclamations in cities across the country, for coastal community protections and natural infrastructure that also supports bird colonies, and for better water policies across the West. Audubon staff, chapters, and partners worked on the ground to protect and restore vital habitats and natural spaces.
Read on to learn more about Audubon’s most important advocacy, conservation, and local achievements across the hemisphere this year!
We worked with state and federal lawmakers and courts to protect birds and the places they need.
Audubon Helps Get Most Comprehensive Climate-focused Bill Signed Into Law
After months of advocacy by Audubon and dozens of other groups, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act and President Biden signed it into law. This landmark bill provides billions of dollars to help birds and people weather climate change, including:
- $370 billion for the transition to clean energy
- $20 billion for conservation on private lands
- $4 billion for drought resilience in the West
- $2.6 billion for coastal protection and restoration
- $2 billion for wildfire risk reduction, including natural solutions
- $450 million for private forest conservation
- $50 million dollars for national marine sanctuaries
Audubon CEO Dr. Elizabeth Gray Testifies Before Congress
This summer, Dr. Elizabeth Gray testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works about the importance of improving coastal resilience for birds and people. Audubon was asked to represent the conservation community on important climate adaptation issues and provide input on four pieces of legislation, including the Strengthening Coastal Communities Act of 2022. This is a national priority for Audubon, as it would expand the bipartisan Coastal Barrier Resources Act and its system of protected areas, protecting vital coastal ecosystems while saving federal tax dollars. This was the first time Audubon’s CEO has been invited to give congressional testimony in over 10 years.
Great Salt Lake Gets Boost With $40 Million Investment in Water Conservation
In a huge win for birds and the Great Salt Lake ecosystem, Audubon and The Nature Conservancy were awarded an unprecedented $40 million grant to lead and implement a water trust to benefit Great Salt Lake and its wetlands. Audubon’s leadership, scientific expertise, commitment to collaboration, and long-standing conservation record at Great Salt Lake led to this major investment.
Ensuring water flows to Great Salt Lake and its wetlands over the long term is the single most important strategy to prevent further drying of the lake and protecting the birds and people that depend on the health of this irreplaceable ecosystem.
Audubon Americas Program Launches Conserva Aves to Protect Habitat Across the Hemisphere
Conserva Aves is a strategic initiative that promotes the creation, consolidation, management, and strengthening of 100 or more new local strategic protected areas at the subnational level, regional, municipal, ethnic, and private territories covering more than two million hectares in nine Latin American countries. This innovative approach, in partnership with BirdLife International, American Bird Conservancy, and the RedLAC funds, recently closed the call for proposals phase in Colombia, and soon will have the call for proposals in Peru. Early next year Conserva Aves will reach Bolivia and Ecuador, moving forward with this crucial initiative that responds to climate change challenges in the hemisphere.
Audubon Rockies Helps Secure New Policies to Protect Water in Colorado
Audubon Rockies helped secure several water policy wins in Colorado’s 2022 legislative season. Through their outreach, more than 2,400 members advocated to support the Wildfire Prevention Watershed Restoration Funding Bill, which passed and provides $20 million to restore watershed resilience. An Audubon member also testified in support of Colorado’s newly passed turf replacement program, which incentivizes water-wise landscaping. And finally, Rockies rallied more than 3,400 petition signatures and 440 free responses supporting protection of Colorado’s rivers in the Colorado Water Plan update. In recognition of these accomplishments and more, Audubon Rockies’ Western Rivers regional program manager, Abby Burk, was awarded the Riparian Hero Award from the Colorado Riparian Association.
Audubon Southwest Engages Biden-Harris Administration in Arizona
Twice this year, a U.S. cabinet secretary visited the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center to discuss regional conservation and ongoing inequalities in Phoenix, Arizona.
In February, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland met with Audubon, Congressional and local legislative representatives, tribal leaders, and other local community members to discuss water conservation issues, environmental equity, and conservation investment opportunities along the Rio Salado corridor and throughout the Southwest.
In August, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg met with Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, as well as Tribal, congressional, state, and municipal leaders at the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center to announce a $25 million federal grant awarded to the City of Phoenix for the construction of a new bike and pedestrian bridge across the Rio Salado. The bridge, once constructed, will sit less than 1,000 feet from Center property and is the federal-to-local investment Audubon has advocated for in the Rio Salado corridor and its surrounding neighborhoods. These recent investments in building connectivity acknowledge the ever-present history of the Rio Salado and its adjacent east-west train lines utilized to separate South Phoenix’s Black and brown communities from the city’s white population to the north, of which Buttigieg took note.
Record-Breaking Funding Allocated for Everglades Restoration
Audubon advocated for the nearly $1.1 billion that will be provided to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Program to support important projects. This funding comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill that was signed into law in 2021 and represents a sweeping investment in the world’s largest ecosystem restoration project—America’s Everglades.
Audubon Has Seat at the Table Over Orphan Well Management
Christopher Simmons, senior manager of public lands policy at Audubon, was appointed to the Colorado Orphaned Wells Mitigation Enterprise Board by Colorado Governor Polis. The board will make decisions regarding $115 million in funding to plug, reclaim and remediate orphaned oil and gas wells, which can restore habitat for birds and address pollution issues for communities, including those facing historic inequities.
Save the Seabirds Fly-in Brings New Voices to Congress
Audubon hosted a hybrid 2022 Save the Seabirds Fly-in on Capitol Hill and online this October. During the event, staff and chapter members from eight states met with 15 congressional offices both virtually and in person to advocate for seabirds and the forage fish and coastal habitats they rely on. In addition to staff from Audubon Delta, Audubon California, and Audubon Great Lakes, our participating chapters included the University of South Carolina campus chapter, Little Red River Audubon Society, Mississippi Coast Audubon Society, Portland Audubon, Detroit Audubon Society, and Northeastern Wisconsin Audubon Society. As a result of Audubon’s advocacy and education during this event, new Members of Congress added their support to the America’s Sustainable Fisheries Act, which helps protect forage fish.
Audubon Chief Conservation Officer Judges 2023 Duck Stamp Contest
Marshall Johnson, Audubon’s chief conservation officer, served as one of the judges for the 2023 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Federal Duck Stamp contest. Federal Duck Stamps raise millions of dollars a year for national wildlife refuges and are an important way to get crucial bird conservation work accomplished. This year’s winner was Joseph Hautman (his sixth win overall) for his painting of three Tundra Swans. To celebrate the contest being judged in Bismarck, North Dakota, Audubon Dakotas coordinated two events to showcase the importance of working lands conservation.
Mitchell Lake Audubon Center Receives $6 Million in City of San Antonio Bond Funds
After a robust community campaign led by Audubon Texas, in May voters approved $6 million in City of San Antonio municipal bond funds be directed to support improvements at the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center. The proposed improvements support the City’s four guiding principles of this bond initiative and will make a great impact for birds and visitors alike, by creating equity in public amenities in a traditionally under resourced community, increasing visitor accessibility, expanding regional connectivity to the citywide hike and bike trail system, and improving a world-renowned riparian corridor and recreation area.
Audubon Working to Address Climate Change in Minnesota
Audubon helped push the State of Minnesota to finalize and adopt a Climate Action Framework that aligns with the goals of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Audubon Minnesota Iowa Missouri’s Dr. Dale Gentry, Director of Conservation, and Lindsay J. Brice, Policy Director were appointed and served on the statewide Climate Smart Natural & Working Lands and Resilient Communities workgroups. They reviewed and recommended changes to the final plan.
Audubon Minnesota Iowa Missouri Secures Funding for Tallgrass Aspen Parklands
Audubon received $2.14 million in funding from the state of Minnesota for the Tallgrass Aspen Parklands program, which protects and restores critical bird habitat in designated Important Bird Areas on public and private lands in a region that experiences intense migration. Since the program began in 2012, more than 1,700 acres have been restored in addition to the protection of 900 acres through conservation easements. This new funding enables Audubon Minnesota Iowa Missouri to scale this work on an additional 1,700 acres. A recent $418,500 National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grasslands grant through the Conservation Partners Program will further Audubon’s impact in the region over the upcoming years as we expand restoration in this critical area for birds.
Hundreds of Artists Contribute to The Birdsong Project
Audubon partnered in The Birdsong Project‚ an unprecedented outpouring of creativity by 200+ of the biggest names in entertainment to celebrate the joy of birds and inspire conservation action to protect them. Produced by Grammy Award-winning music supervisor Randall Poster, the collection is available on all streaming platforms and as a 20LP vinyl box set, all proceeds of which benefit Audubon. The project earned media coverage ranging from The New York Times to Rolling Stone, plus social media elevation by such mega-celebrities as Leonardo DiCaprio and Yoko Ono. You can listen to The Birdsong Project here.
Coastal Restoration Legislation Introduced
This year Audubon helped get the Shoreline Health and Oversight, Restoration, Resiliency, and Enhancement Act (SHORRE Act) introduced to Congress. This bipartisan legislation elevates coastal restoration in the face of climate change as a primary mission of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and it incentivizes natural infrastructure like wetlands and natural floodplains over traditional grey infrastructure like dams and levees to better address flood and storm management on our coasts and rivers. It would also authorize better federal cost-share agreements for historically disadvantaged and disproportionately vulnerable communities, including Tribal communities.
Connecticut Passes Law to Protect Fish that Seabirds Need for Food
With support from Audubon Connecticut and partners, Connecticut passed a new law to protect important forage fish species in Connecticut coastal waters, limiting the harvest of little fish like Atlantic silverside, sand lance, and others to no more than 200 pounds per day. This law will help ensure that Least Terns and other seabirds have plenty to eat and to feed their chicks.
Audubon Finds Broad Support for Clean Energy in Indiana
An Indiana statewide poll released by Audubon Great Lakes found that voters in Indiana, regardless of political orientation, overwhelmingly support having more renewable energy in Indiana. The polling also found that 75 percent of Hoosiers, including an overwhelming majority of Republicans, Independents and Democrats, support net metering policies that fairly compensate customers who generate their own electricity, usually through solar panels on their rooftops, for electricity they add to the grid. Following the release of the poll, almost 300 Audubon members in Indiana reached out to their state senators in support of SB 248 to strengthen net-metering protections in the state.
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Tours Site of Audubon Great Lakes’ Restoration Work in Wisconsin
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin went birding with Audubon in Allouez Bay in Superior, Wisconsin to learn about Audubon Great Lakes’ plan to bring back declining bird populations across the St. Louis River Estuary region, and to discuss bipartisan conservation and climate solutions to protect Wisconsin’s birds and people. The event brought together project partners, including representatives from Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, Duluth Audubon Society, and Chequamegon Audubon Society, as well as local representatives from the City of Superior.
Michigan Climate Plan Improved Thanks to Audubon Members and Concerned Residents
This year, more than 900 Audubon members across the state encouraged the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, and the Council on Climate Solutions, to strengthen a draft plan designed to help the State of Michigan achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Thanks to that outreach, the final plan contains important improvements, including a call for the state to generate 60 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable sources, cut 28 percent of the state’s emissions by 2025, and retire coal-fired power plants in the state by 2030. It also explicitly addresses climate equity concerns, calling for at least 40 percent of any state funding that will be used for climate and water-related infrastructure to go to BIPOC and disadvantaged communities. Finally, thanks to Audubon and member input, the plan now recommends responsibly siting solar farms on state-owned lands to minimize their impacts on birds.
Audubon Finds Strong Support for Wetlands Protections in Indiana
Indiana has lost 85 percent of its wetlands, forcing birds like the Black Tern and Yellow-headed Blackbird out of the state to find suitable habitat. A diverse group of experts and stakeholders in Indiana that make up the Indiana Wetlands Task Force have agreed – loss of wetlands is negatively impacting Indiana residents, and we need to do more to protect this important natural resource. The Indiana Wetlands Task Force was established as part of Senate Enrolled Act 389, which rolled back protections for more than 400,000 acres of wetlands in Indiana.
Earlier this year, Audubon Great Lakes released findings from an Indiana state-wide poll, which found that Indiana residents across the political spectrum overwhelmingly support wetlands protections. The Task Force cited these findings in their final report, which outlines the steps needed to take to protect them.
Audubon Helps Bring Bird-friendly Clean Energy to Washington State
Audubon Washington led efforts to bring Washington State University’s Least-Conflict Solar Siting project, which identifies areas with the least potential for conflict over the siting of large-scale solar energy projects, to the state’s Columbia Plateau region. This region, which is in eastern Washington state, features environmentally sensitive sagebrush habitat and is home to a variety of sagebrush-dependent species like the Greater Sage-Grouse, and proper siting of renewable energy is critical to minimize impacts to these ecosystems. Now that the process is underway, Audubon is focused on protecting sagebrush birds and the habitat they rely on while pursuing policies to help accelerate the deployment of responsibly-sited renewable energy. Going forward, Washington State University is engaging Audubon and other stakeholders, as well as tribes and key agencies, to use local input and spatial data to produce maps and an associated final report by June 2023.
Audubon Supported Climate, Conservation, and Environmental Justice in Pennsylvania
This spring, Audubon Mid-Atlantic staff and members voiced support of a Pennsylvania budget that includes more than $696 million in Growing Greener funding, including more than $150 million to the commonwealth’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. More than 1,500 Audubon members reached out to legislators this spring to urge them to support these appropriations. And in the November election, rural voters in Carbon County, Pennsylvania voted overwhelmingly (83 percent) to support an Audubon-backed $10 million bond supporting open space, agricultural areas, and water protection.
Audubon Helped Secure $1.25 Million for USGS Water Survey
Audubon’s Saline Lakes (part of the Western Water program) and policy teams helped secure $1.25 million dollars in Congressional funding for the U.S. Geological Survey to establish a regional Integrated Water Availability Assessment study program in the Great Basin of the American West. The program’s purpose is to assess and monitor the hydrology of saline lakes in the Great Basin and the migratory birds and other wildlife dependent on those habitats.
Audubon’s Lander Karath Selected to Co-lead in the America the Beautiful for All Coalition
The America the Beautiful for All Coalition reflects the diversity of America and centers the voices of people of color working to conserve 30 percent of our public lands, waters, and ocean by 2030. Lander Karath, Audubon’s manager of public lands policy, joined the coalition as co-lead of the Wildlife working group. By building shared power among land, freshwater, and ocean advocates across communities, perspectives, and interests, this coalition will design and drive forward a shared policy agenda that motivates action by the Biden Administration and other decision-makers to implement just solutions.
Advocacy by Audubon Southwest Helps Secure $440 Million for Arizona Water Conservation
Audubon’s advocacy and policy staff helped secure nearly $440 million dedicated to conservation and water reliability projects throughout Arizona, including unprecedented funding for improving surface water flows, groundwater recharge and aquifer health, and landscape watershed protection including through green infrastructure. This funding—if used wisely—can help jump-start the long-term transformation the state needs in order to adapt to drought and water scarcity supercharged by climate change. Haley Paul, policy director for Audubon Southwest, was recently selected to serve on Senator Krysten Sinema’s water advisory council.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem Declares National Prairie Day
Audubon Dakota partnered with Governor Kristi Noem to proclaim June 4th, 2022 as Prairie Day in South Dakota. South Dakota’s prairies provide critical habitat for grassland birds and pollinators and are a cornerstone of South Dakota’s ranching industry. With nearly half of South Dakota’s land area in grasslands, prairies are a valuable resource for livestock producers and wildlife. The proclamation elevates the prairies of South Dakota to recognize the immense importance of these ecosystems as not only bird and wildlife habitat, but as irreplaceable resources to Indigenous peoples, ranchers, and the broader South Dakota community.
Audubon Reviewed Proposed Clean Energy Projects
This year, Audubon’s Clean Energy Initiative (CEI) team tracked and made recommendations on more than 34 proposed wind, solar, and transmission projects. In total, these offshore and land-based renewable energy projects span 20 different states and present a nameplate capacity of 26,020 megawatts—enough to power more than 4.9 million homes. Audubon’s CEI team is working with more than half a dozen field offices—Washington, Southwest, Rockies, Great Lakes, New York, South Carolina, Missouri, California, and Mid Atlantic—to help ensure that projects avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts to birds and the places they need.
Audubon Helped Mainstream Bird Conservation in the National Environmental and Development Agendas in Chile and Colombia
The National Bird Conservation Plan was successfully integrated into the national policy framework in January, and in October, the National Committee for the implementation of the plan was formalized and integrated by Audubon and other 22 organizations from the public sector, academy, and NGO, led by the Chilean Ministry of Environment. The Audubon Americas program has supported the implementation of this plan by carrying out the first bird-based tourism market analysis for the country, conducting a coastal and seabird conservation gap in the marine protected areas.
Colombia has an updated National Bird Conservation Strategy and action plan (ENCA 2030). The Audubon Americas program had a leading role in partnership with the Humboldt Institute and the national birdwatchers network RNOA, in adoption of the new plan. The documents set a participatory milestone with the close and active engagement of more than 1,000 people (social, economic, environmental, and community sectors) participating in more than 40 virtual and face-to-face workshops. The strategy has been shared so far in 12 national and international events. Next year, the ENCA implementation phase begins, with national and regional launches and the governance committee’s formalization.
Audubon Advocates for Responsible Transmission Development
In September, Audubon’s CEI team presented a free webinar on transmission development to more than 280 attendees. CEI staff explained Audubon’s positions on transmission and why projects like the SunZia transmission line are essential for a clean energy transition. Staff also covered regulations and fragmentation of the grid, what can be done to facilitate transmission, and how everyone can create net conservation benefits for birds.
Audubon Members Push California to Pass Environmental Justice Bill Into Law
After tens of thousands of Audubon members advocated in support of it, Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Equitable Outdoor Access Act (AB 30) into law, a historic milestone toward achieving equitable opportunities for safe and affordable access to nature for all Californians. Implementation of AB 30 will result in more parks and open space across California, especially in communities that are deprived of natural areas. Expanding green space will improve healthy outdoor recreation, connect communities with nature, create bird habitat, and build bird-friendly communities.
Audubon North Carolina Lays Groundwork for Responsible Offshore Wind Energy
Over the last year, Audubon has shaped the conversation around responsible offshore wind energy in North Carolina, an important tool in the fight against climate change. Audubon formed a new coalition and our members signed petitions and flooded public comment periods with letters urging industry and officials to grow the industry responsibly, to protect birds and slash emissions. The early results are promising—leases for the newest wind energy area include strong wildlife monitoring requirements using Motus tracking technology.
New York State Passes $4.2 Billion Bond Measure for Clean Air and Water
In November, voters in New York state passed the $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act. Audubon New York was part of the Vote Yes for Clean Water & Jobs coalition, a diverse and engaged partnership of over three hundred environmental organizations, unions and business groups that propelled this measure to success.
Audubon South Carolina and Hilton Head Audubon Help Pass Green Space Measure
Beaufort County, South Carolina voters passed a Green Space sales tax to be used to purchase land and save it from development. The tax will start in May 2023 and run for two years or until $100 million has been collected. Audubon South Carolina and Hilton Head Audubon helped educate voters about the proposed sales tax increase and were instrumental in getting the measure passed this November.
Our programs elevate smart ideas and help them achieve impact at scale.
Audubon Launches the Bird Migration Explorer and Brings the Joy of Migration to Everyone
One of the most exciting things to emerge from Audubon’s Science team this year is the Bird Migration Explorer, an online interactive platform that showcases everything scientists know about the migrations of more than 500 species of North American birds. Not only that, the Bird Migration Explorer highlights threats to birds—and where those threats are—for each species. Since its launch in September, more than 150,000 people have checked out what the Explorer can do.
Audubon’s Seabird Institute Reports Dramatic Increase in Fledged Puffin, Guillemot, and Tern Chicks
This year, Audubon’s Seabird Institute reported that twice as many seabird chicks survived the summer and fledged from their nests along the coast of Maine compared to last year. This exciting success rate, featured on the Today Show, is much closer to what’s considered normal for Maine’s seabird colonies, following a steep decline last year as climate change dealt a blow to nesting birds like Atlantic Puffins and Common Terns. The welcome news comes from the Gulf of Maine Seabird Working Group, a group of scientists from Audubon’s Seabird Institute, state and federal wildlife agencies, and other conservation groups that monitor and protect seabirds from Massachusetts to Canada.
Audubon North Carolina Restores Vital Bird Nesting Island in the Cape Fear River
Ferry Slip Island is typically home to large nesting colonies of Royal Terns and oystercatchers, but the island has been eroding away in recent years. Last spring, Audubon partnered with the Army Corps of Engineers to nearly double its size using dredged sand from the river. Within weeks, nesting birds returned to the open, sandy habitat of the island, including the first pair of nesting Black Skimmers on the river in a decade.
Florida Grasshopper Sparrow Releases Reach Historic Milestone
This summer, the 500th captive-reared Florida Grasshopper Sparrow was released into the wild. This sparrow is endemic to Florida and spends its entire life in dry prairies, which used to cover a much larger swath of our state. Between 2000 and 2019, biologists noticed a sharp decline in sparrow numbers, from more than 1,000 to perhaps less than 100 individuals. Thanks to the released birds, the future is brighter for this beautiful sparrow.
Audubon Researchers Report New Understandings in How Land-Use and Climate Change Affects Birds
Using CBC data that goes back 90 years, Audubon scientists were able to tease apart the different effects that land-use change and climate change have wrought upon bird populations. The study shows that climate change is a strong, driving force that explains how different kinds of birds have moved and where they live across the eastern United States. Changes in land use, such as converting native grasslands to farmland and destroying wetlands, has had an outsize influence on the birds that rely on those habitats at the local level. This demonstrates that local conservation actions are a powerful way to positively affect bird populations overall.
Great Lakes Piping Plovers Have Record Breeding Season
The Great Lakes population of endangered Piping Plovers had a breeding season for the record books thanks to many organizations, partners, and volunteers working to protect them. This year, 150 chicks fledged in the wild, the greatest number of chicks fledged since the population was listed as federally endangered in 1986 and halfway to the recovery goal. Audubon Great Lakes also launched an engagement and outreach pilot program aimed at educating Michigan beachgoers about the importance of sharing the shore with our beloved plovers. The public was encouraged to take the Plover Pledge, which entailed a promise to keep dogs off nesting beaches, carry out trash, give plovers space to nest and rest, and spread the word about sharing the shore. The program was a success, gathering nearly 500 pledges of people joining a united effort of “good eggs” taking action for birds.
Audubon Great Lakes worked with partners to monitor the population of Piping Plovers at Cat Island in Green Bay, WI. This year the site successfully fledged 11 wild chicks out of 12 chicks that hatched, which is an impressive 92 percent fledge rate.
Audubon Americas Helped Support Mangrove and Coastal Wetland Conservation and Sustainable Management in Panama and Chile
Science is at the heart of Audubon Americas Coastal Resilience projects, and two core countries are leading the Americas pack: Panama and Chile. The Blue Natural Heritage project in Panama, in partnership with the Panama Audubon Society, validated a methodology with the Ministry of Environment for the measurement of blue carbon in mangroves, to be accounted for separately from inland-forest carbon. This US$2.3-million project, backed by the United Kingdom’s Blue Carbon Fund and administered by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), initiated its implementation through the establishment of monitoring units in the Bay of Parita pilot site (which is crucial for migratory birds, like the Panama Bay) and carrying out the corresponding laboratory analysis to determine the existing carbon stock.
Further south, in Chile, Audubon Americas is advancing the implementation of a Conservation Action Plan for the Rocuant-Andalién IBA, Concepción, by supporting efforts to reduce human disturbance and strengthening partnerships for shorebird conservation with strategic partners and the Chilean Government. On a similar note, Audubon Americas Chile recently started a partnership with the Fundación Cosmos to work at the Humedal del Río Maipo Natural Sanctuary, also an IBA, during 2023. This is one of the key sites for migratory shorebirds and other resident bird species.
Audubon Delta Helps Restore Least Tern Breeding Habitat
This past April, Audubon staff, volunteers, and Gulfport High School students restored habitat along a stretch of recreational beach in Harrison County, Mississippi. The work took place in a globally recognized Important Bird Area in Gulfport which is vital to the life cycle of a small but mighty bird, the Least Tern. Every summer the IBA hosts between 400 and 500 pairs of breeding Least Terns. Thanks to a grant from Restore America’s Estuaries, who partnered with Citgo Petroleum, a total of 2,500 new beach plants were installed to help stabilize the mainland beach habitat. Audubon Delta worked in partnership with Gulfport High School to provide a field-based opportunity to students who were eager to help build back their community’s resilience. In addition to the plantings, Audubon designed and produced “Dune Restoration” signs that will stay up year-round to protect the new vegetation and habitat.
Lights Out Gains Momentum Across the Country
Lights Out continues to gain momentum across the country, with several city and statewide programs launched this past year to ensure safer skies for birds, thanks to the work of Audubon chapters and state teams. The network now includes more than 40 cities, with the following recent additions: Greensboro, NC; Harrisburg, PA; Miami, FL; Nashville, TN; and regional efforts in Connecticut, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, and the Dakotas. With the recent launches, we now have Lights Out efforts underway in 18 out of the top 20 cities most threatened with light pollution.
Lights Out For Birds in Colorado
Last spring, Colorado Governor Jared Polis proclaimed April 2022 Lights Off for Bird Migration Month, just one year after the launch of Lights Out Colorado, which was started by Audubon Rockies, Denver Audubon, and International Dark-sky Association–Colorado.
Chapters pass five local Lights Out policies in North Carolina
Momentum is growing for Lights Out programs across North Carolina, thanks to advocacy from local chapters and campus chapters. Since last fall, five North Carolina cities—Asheville, Chapel Hill, Greensboro, Matthews, and Raleigh—have adopted Lights Out programs to darken the night skies during migration.
Lights Out, Texas! campaign
Earlier this year, Audubon Texas became the lead facilitator for the Lights Out Texas campaign. The state office worked with partners to produce all new outreach and social media toolkits, Spanish language resources, and much more. Due to that investment, #LightsOutTexas messages since the beginning of fall migration have reached more than 6 million people online.
Chapters involved in Lights Out work in 2022 include Wyncote Audubon (PA), Valley Forge Audubon (PA), Houston Audubon (TX), Bexar Audubon (TX), Tropical Audubon (FL), Appalachian Audubon (PA), Menunkatuck Audubon (CT), Cumberland-Harpeth Audubon (TN), Mesilla Valley Audubon (NM), Tucson Audubon (AZ), Sonoran Audubon (AZ), Desert Rivers Audubon (AZ), Maricopa (AZ), UNC Asheville Audubon on Campus chapter (NC), Blue Ridge Audubon (NC), and T Gilbert Pearson Audubon (NC).
Audubon Conservation Ranching Now In 15 States
As illustrated by the 2022 State of the Birds Report, the decline of grassland birds continues to be precipitous, and grassland habitat and grassland birds are in desperate need of conservation solutions. After several years of piloting in the Great Plains, Audubon Conservation Ranching launched nationally in 2017. Today, 99 ranches, covering 2.7 million acres across 15 states, have met bird-friendly standards, and 166 retailers carry products with the Audubon Certified bird-friendly seal, which informs consumers that the beef and/or bison products grazed on lands managed for birds and biodiversity. Audubon’s partnership with Panorama Organic Meats is a big market leap in connecting consumers with grassland conservation.
Audubon Connecticut Restores Critical Marsh Habitat Along Long Island Sound
This year Audubon Connecticut completed the Great Meadows Marsh restoration project, restoring eight acres and creating 12 additional acres of high marsh habitat. The restored tidal marsh, which contains the largest block of unditched salt marsh remaining in Connecticut, provides healthy habitat for horseshoe crabs and blue crabs, the beautiful and endangered Marsh Pink flower, Saltmarsh Sparrows and other migratory birds, and fish like Atlantic Silverside and Menhaden.
Audubon Dakota Protected Vital Prairie Habitat
By providing financial and technical assistance through the Prairie Management Toolbox, Audubon Conservation Ranching program, the Edward M. Brigham Alakali Lake Sanctuary, and the Conservation Forage Program, Audubon Dakota improved wildlife and bird habitat on 63,941 acres.
Connectivity, Science, and Regenerative Agriculture Provide Key Insights and Paths Forward in Colombia
In support of regenerative cattle ranching in Colombia, Audubon published “Cattle Ranching for Birds,” a practical and beautiful manual for ranchers and extensionists on how to plan land use to increase productivity while preserving birds and biodiversity. In parallel, this year Audubon worked on identifying the best trees and shrubs that benefit birds for restoration projects and implementation of bird-friendly practices and supported two community-led nurseries that will supply the demand for these plants while improving local livelihoods. Audubon is working with more than 10 local partners across Colombia to ensure our work is included in regional conservation and sustainable development projects.
To better understand bird movements across Colombia, Audubon Americas deployed a Motus monitoring system for migratory species, tagged 10 Lesser Yellowlegs and installed two towers in the Cauca Valley. Audubon also adapted the Bird Friendliness Index (BFI) from the Working Lands program in the United States to be used in Colombia, with the first results of monitoring data combined with BFI calculations to evaluate the potential of artificial wetlands for waterbirds while increasing productivity and profit for farmers.
New Naturalist Program with Audubon Rockies Supports Conservation in Wyoming
In 2021, Audubon Rockies co-launched the Wyoming Naturalist Program with the University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute. This year, the second cohort completed their training and work. So far, 40 people have completed the initial training and contributed more than 1,250 hours of service to conservation projects throughout Wyoming, estimated to be worth more than $35,000 of work.
Restored Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary Has Great Nesting Season
Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary had a successful inaugural nesting season, hosting 500 nests on the newly restored island and withstanding two strong storms. Using dredged sediment from Charleston Harbor, the state of South Carolina restored this eroding rookery island last year, adding 32 acres of new habitat.The newly restored island provides $1.6 million in storm protection savings to the nearby community, and $5.18 million in recreational and tourism value to the area. Audubon South Carolina helped raise the funds for the island’s restoration, assisted with monitoring nesting birds, and led stewardship efforts of the island.
Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Brings 1,000 Acres Under Restoration
Staff and contractors at Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary have completed the first phase of restoration on more than 1,000 acres of wetland habitat. Launched in 2018, the project addresses the spread of nuisance, native woody shrubs in freshwater wetlands. These marshes and prairies, once dominated by diverse grasses and sedges, provided habitat for a range of wildlife species, from the tiny least killifish to the threatened Wood Stork. Before restoration, Carolina willow and other woody shrubs replaced those grasses, taking advantage of altered seasonal water conditions and a lack of fire.
Audubon North Carolina Launches Coastal Resilience Projects with Conservation Grants
The North Carolina Land and Water Fund has awarded two grants totaling more than $400,000 to Audubon North Carolina for habitat restoration projects in the Cape Fear River and at Audubon’s Pine Island Sanctuary on the Outer Banks. The projects will protect and improve important bird habitat while also providing storm protection and water quality benefits for people.
Audubon and Partners Launch Project to Track Declining Golden-winged Warblers
With partners across the East Coast and Great Lakes, Audubon began a years-long project to gather movement data on Golden-winged Warblers. Using tiny devices called nanotags, researches will get an unprecedented look into the movements of this rare bird.
Audubon Great Lakes Restores Critical Chicago Waterways and Wetlands
Audubon Great Lakes and the Forest Preserves of Cook County restored more than 100 acres of wetlands by reconnecting Powderhorn Lake to Wolf Lake in the Calumet region in Illinois. The connection will restore the historical hydrologic connections between the two waterways, helping to reestablish the vital marsh habitat. The connection will also allow fish to move between lakes, bolstering populations of game and non-game fish including Northern Pike. This marsh habitat will also reduce flooding and help ensure a resilient future for the wildlife and people who depend on the region.
Audubon Study Shows That Even Small Urban Wetlands Support Many Bird Species
In a three-year study, Audubon and Illinois University scientists found even at scales as small as the footprint of a house, urban wetlands support many wetlands bird species. More than 90% of wetland habitat in Illinois has been lost to development and conversion to agriculture. This may lead wetland bird species to concentrate in any remaining wetlands. More research will be needed to see how successfully they’re breeding to ensure their continuing presence in the state. To that end, the Audubon Great Lakes’ Marsh Bird Monitoring Hub is collecting and sharing wetland bird data with land managers and the public to promote wetlands restoration and maintenance in the region. Working with land managers is critical to bringing vulnerable marsh birds back, and it’s encouraging to know that our efforts can make a difference even in heavily impacted and urbanized areas.
Audubon Great Lakes Tracks More Black Terns to Understand Population Trends
Researchers at Audubon Great Lakes have been using small tracking devices called NanoTags to study and understand what is driving the decline of Black Terns and to develop conservation strategies that can help bring these elegant marsh birds back. This year, Audubon Great Lakes researchers found that 43 percent of tagged chicks were detected flying past multiple tracking towers along their migration, confirming that the chicks had successfully fledged; this is double the observed fledging rate using traditional observation techniques. The tagging effort also showed that national wildlife refuges along the Atlantic Coast are important stopover points for this species, highlighting the importance of protection and management of these areas for Black Terns in particular. Finally, this year Audubon Great Lakes constructed three additional tracking towers in Michigan to help more accurately detect Black Tern chicks as they fledge and depart their hatching grounds.
Audubon Vermont Launches Bird- and Bee-Friendly Farm Program
Audubon Vermont has started a Bird and Bee Friendly Farming program to advance its efforts to engage with farmers in creating, enhancing, and protecting bird habitat on farms. While still a relatively new program, Audubon Vermont have had success working with partner organizations and local farmers in testing and demonstrating practices that are good for birds and the places birds need to thrive, while also recognizing the economic challenges facing farmers, and other practical, on-the-ground challenges.
Audubon Supports Restoration at Audubon Certified Ranch
Audubon Conservation Ranching staff helped secure National Fish and Wildlife Foundation funding to enhance soil and reseed native plants on a degraded pasture of the Rafter W Ranch, an Audubon Certified bird-friendly ranch in Colorado. These restoration techniques are intended to help the ranch retain water, which should increase its drought resilience and biodiversity in the long-term. Monitoring during the first growing season has already found increased plant growth and reduced soil compaction.
Audubon Mid-Atlantic Helps Build New Tern Nesting Platform in Maryland
The artificial nesting project along Maryland’s coast—a collaboration among Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Audubon Mid-Atlantic, and Maryland Coastal Bays Program—produced a highly successful Common Tern colony this summer. Now in its second year, the partners built a floating wooden-framed platform for use as a nesting site for endangered colonial waterbirds whose historic nesting sites have been eroded by sea level rise. This year, 155 pairs of Common Terns nested on the platform, an increase of 132 pairs from the previous year, and making it the largest breeding colony of this species in the Coastal Bays in 2022.
Audubon Vermont Spearheads Innovative Forest-Management Program
Audubon Vermont spearheaded a unique program that engages local organizations, forest landowners, and youth and young adults in forest bird habitat conservation projects. The project not only provides benefits for birds in the form of habitat restoration and managment, but also benefits landowners by helping them use their forest to produce maple syrup (with the Audubon Vermont “Bird Friendly Maple” logo), all while providing an opportunity to train a new generation of conservation-minded forest management professionals.
Audubon Florida Discovered the Oldest Recorded Roseate Spoonbill
The Audubon team discovered the oldest Roseate Spoonbill ever recorded this spring. The spoonbill, banded by Audubon Florida Director of Research Jerry Lorenz, PhD, in 2003, is now more than 18 years old. The previous record for longevity in the wild for this species? 16 years. Conservation photographer Mac Stone, on assignment with Audubon, photographed the banded bird. Spoonbills are critical indicator species for the overall health of the Everglades.
Audubon Helps Water Flow Again in Colorado River Delta
The Colorado River flowed in its delta once again this year. The flows, which began on May 1, are the result of binational collaboration and deliberate management. The water is dedicated to supporting the ecosystem and local communities in a landscape where the river has not flowed for most years in the past half century. Audubon and its partners have been key to advocating for these water deliveries to the Colorado River delta. The water delivery is a heartening bit of good news for the Colorado River, which earlier this year was designated as America’s most endangered river.
Audubon Publishes Bird Population Report on Utah’s Bear River
Audubon’s Saline Lakes and Science teams partnered with state agencies to produce two publications on long-term trends at Great Salt Lake. The first analyzed impacts of hydrological changes on waterbirds at Bear River Bay, a vitally important wetland at the mouth of the Bear River where it enters Great Salt Lake. The second analyzed 21-year trends in shorebirds, waterfowl, and other waterbirds across the Great Salt Lake as a whole. These two studies will be used to help inform Great Salt Lake conservation efforts over the coming years and contributed to the establishment of a $40 million water trust for Great Salt Lake.
Audubon Releases a Blueprint for a Climate-Resilient Mississippi River
As part of its new blueprint for a resilient Mississippi River, Audubon identified nearly 50 million acres across multiple states in the Lower Mississippi River region as the most important places for birds and people. Using that blueprint as a guide, Audubon will deploy natural infrastructure solutions that restore and enhance ecosystems like wetlands and floodplains, to help make communities and ecosystems more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
Audubon’s Science Team Reports on the Effects of Climate Change on National Wildlife Refuges
In a survey of all 525 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System, Audubon’s Science team found half of the birds throughout the system will see changes in the environmental suitability of their habitats if global temperatures are allowed to rise unchecked. The National Wildlife Refuge System spans 95 million acres on land and also covers 760 million submerged lands and waters. The findings of the study have already affected how refuge biologists approach their work, prompting them to adopt more proactive approaches to managing refuge lands to support their resident birds both now and in the future.
Wetland Restoration with Oneida Nation, Audubon Great Lakes, and Partners
Audubon Great Lakes, in partnership with Oneida Nation and Northeastern Audubon Society, and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Cofrin Center for Biodiversity, are leading a volunteer bird monitoring effort on recently restored Oneida Nation grasslands, marshes, and forests to evaluate the success of this restoration. The project builds bridges between partners who all have a stake in ensuring healthy habitat in the region, strengthening local community ties, and lays the foundation for future restoration work to be informed by community voices and Indigenous conservation practices. The next phase of this project includes securing an Audubon Important Bird Area designation for a portion of Oneida land and, going forward, volunteers will advocate for Indigenous communities when meeting with elected officials.
Audubon Dakota Wins Award for Prairie and River Restoration
Audubon Dakota was awarded the River Keepers Environmental Award for its Urban Woods and Prairies Initiative, which focuses on restoring and enhancing riparian grasslands, wetlands, and woodland habitats in urban settings in partnership with local landowners. The River Keepers Environmental Award recognizes outstanding leadership in the protection of the river environment relative to environmental concerns, water, soils, vegetation, and wildlife.
Audubon’s Boreal Conservation Team Works With Partners Across Canada to Support Indigenous Stewardship
In collaboration with Indigenous partners and other NGOs, Audubon’s Boreal Conservation team is helping to support 100 million acres of proposed protected areas in Canada through communications, science, and collaboration. This includes the final establishment of the 3.5 million-acre Edéhzhíe (Horn Plateau) Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area and National Wildlife Area in the Northwest Territories. Here it is estimated that between 5 and 10 million birds are now protected in their summer homes during the breeding season.
In Manitoba, the Seal River Watershed Alliance is creating an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area on the western side of Hudson Bay to help protect 12 million acres of lakes, rivers, and lands that sustain cultures and support migratory birds, caribou, and polar bears. Audubon works to support the Sayisi Dene First Nation—in partnership with their Cree, Dene, and Inuit neighbors—as they lead the initiative to protect the entirety of the Seal River watershed—an area the size of Costa Rica. Protecting the watershed ensures that future generations can continue traditional practices and have access to the generous bounty of its lands and water.
Audubon’s Boreal Conservation Team Works with Indigenous Guardians to Monitor Biodiversity
Through collaborations between Indigenous Guardians programs and the Boreal Conservation program team, new bioacoustics projects are in progress from the Yukon and Northwest Territories to northern Quebec and Newfoundland. Using autonomous recording units deployed in remote areas across the Boreal Forest of Canada, researchers obtained 10,000 hours of audio recording surveys. The recorded birdsongs and calls can be analyzed to determine the presence of birds in the area over time and help understand changes taking place within the ecological communities.
Osprey Chicks Fledge for First Time from Audubon’s Hog Island Boathouse Nest
Osprey chicks fledged for the first time from Hog Island thanks to the hard work of Hog Island campers. During the their annual service week in 2015, the campers and Hog Island staff built an additional nesting spot atop the Boat House deck on the mainland, directly across the narrow channel and about a quarter of a mile away from the original Osprey nest on Hog Island. Success wasn’t immediate, but this year Osprey pair Dory and Skiff successfully fledged three chicks: Schooner, Skipjack, and Skip.
Audubon is local everywhere. Our chapter network and state offices were critical to protecting and restoring the places that birds need to thrive.
Audubon State Offices and Local Chapters Secure Native Plant Commitments
In a first for the Bird-Friendly Communities PROs (Proclamations, Resolution, and Ordinances) program, Wake Audubon Society in Wake County, North Carolina, successfully advocated for the adoption of a native-plant city ordinance—an enforceable law—in the town of Cary, North Carolina. This new law regulates the amount of plants developers must include in building developments and provides them with landscape credit if they meet these new rules. San Diego Audubon in California, Seneca Rocks Audubon in Pennsylvania, and Hot Springs Village Audubon in Arkansas were also successful in securing native plant
s proclamations or resolutions in their local municipalities.
Since Audubon began the PROs program in 2020, the Bird-friendly Communities team has helped chapters secure a total of 41 PROs across the United States by providing technical support like trainings and webinars, resources, and funding.
Audubon Staff Stop Sale of Conservation Property
Keen eyes and an attention to detail helped save 18,000 acres of conservation lands in Florida earlier this year. Chris Farrell, Northeast Florida policy associate for Audubon Florida, was reviewing a St. Johns Water Management District Board agenda when he noticed a worrying item: a request to designate 18,000 acres of state-owned land as “no longer needed for conservation.” Audubon’s team alerted other conservation groups and engaged with District leadership immediately, and they agreed to pull the item from the meeting agenda entirely. District leaders have since assured Audubon Florida that they have no immediate plans to sell any conservation lands.
Arizona Cuckoo Surveys Inspire New Chapter Leadership
It’s a conundrum we all face. How do we engage the next cohort of conservationists and how do we ensure it is more diverse than today’s crew? Arizona’s Sonoran Audubon Society has found the winning formula: engage students with meaningful conservation efforts and earn them some career-boosting credentials along the way. Funded by Audubon in Action and Western Water Network grants, they have just completed the second year of surveying for the federally threatened Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo with a team of young scientists recruited from Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Audubon campus chapter. Upon completing the field season, students have the credentials they need to be added to state and federal survey permits (a big gain for students soon to be seeking careers in the field).
New Garden Provides a Place of Respite at a Victim Advocate Center in Colorado
Audubon Rockies partnered with the Sexual Assault Victim Advocate Center in Colorado to plant a new bird-friendly healing garden at their entrance. The garden not only supports local bird populations, it also provides an important healing space for their clients and staff.
Audubon Mid-Atlantic Hosted Baltimore and Philadelphia Birding Weekends
During Audubon Mid-Atlantic‘s 2022 Baltimore Birding Weekend, participants were treated to guided walks in iconic and little-known parts of Baltimore, Maryland and saw a total of 123 species, an exciting indication of the importance of the city’s green spaces for birds’ rest and food during spring migration. Audubon Mid-Atlantic hosted the first ever Philadelphia Birding Weekend in October, where participants visited local parks, arboretums and cemeteries throughout the city, and came together for a “Tally Rally,” where 93 species of birds were recorded from the various walks. Both events drew enthusiastic reviews from participants, many of whom were on their first bird walks.
Audubon Great Lakes Hosted Local Chapter Gathering and Awards
This spring, Audubon members from across the Great Lakes region came together online for the 2022 Audubon Great Lakes Chapter Gathering and Awards to celebrate chapters across the region that are mobilizing around environmental concerns, stewardship, and community science. In its inaugural year, the Alan Dolan Conservation Advocacy Award was presented to Jennifer Kuroda, President of the Sinnissippi Audubon Society and Audubon Council of Illinois for her work to save Illinois’ Bell Bowl Prairie, the last remnant prairie in the state, and her work piloting Bird City Illinois, an initiative that engages municipalities in World Migratory Bird Day events and passes proclamations and resolutions that commit city governments to bird-friendly actions.
Rare Golden-cheek Warbler Returns to Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center in Texas
Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center is at the extreme edge of the Golden-cheeked Warbler’s breeding range, and the bird hasn’t been documented there in well over a decade. Staff and volunteers collaborated to document a beautiful male Golden-cheeked Warbler, and the team’s efforts may have discovered a second individual in the area. As word got out, the local birding community was afforded a rare opportunity to see this Texas gem in their backyard. While it’s unknown why the warbler returned to its historical range outside Dallas, Dogwood Canyon and the surrounding landscape provide hundreds of acres of healthy woodland habitat as part of a quilt of open space in the area. Hopefully the birds will come back next spring!
Audubon Vermont Makes Outdoors and Conservation Careers More Accessible
In 2022, Audubon Vermont received a significant boost to its efforts to create opportunities for conservation careers when the Vermont legislature voted to appropriate funds to the program. Audubon Vermont has been working with partner organizations, Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, ReSOURCE, and Vermont Works for Women to provide a coordinated service-learning program that provides paid, hands-on learning opportunities for youth and young adults. Audubon’s goal from participating in this partnership is to expand the opportunities for a diverse mix of youth and young adults to pursue careers in the conservation and related fields.
Audubon On Campus News: Climate Advocacy, Arts Festivals, and Native Plant Gardens
Engaging Communities on Climate Change
The San Diego City Community College Audubon campus chapter launched their own Audubon Mural project depicting birds threatening by climate change, and organized a symposium to discuss the effects of climate change with members of their surrounding community, focusing especially on how climate change will impact those in Latin America.
HBCU Arts and Conservation Festival
This spring, four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) collaborated on a climate-change and conservation-themed arts festival that featured music, poetry slams, dance competitions, and a variety of youth activists as speakers. The entire event was planned and executed by student leaders and Audubon campus chapter leaders, with support from the Audubon on Campus program during the entire process.
From Partners to Affiliates
In 2021, Bloomington Birders, a small birding club at Indiana University Bloomington, joined Audubon Great Lakes to raise awareness of the bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act, a federal bill that helps farmers and foresters in Indiana and beyond scale-up their climate-friendly practices to reduce harmful carbon emissions. This advocacy helped the bill secure a victory in the U.S. Senate. Inspired by this campaign work, this year Bloomington Birders founder Matthias Bencko registered the group as an official Audubon on Campus Chapter, a student-led organization that works to create meaningful change on- and off-campus.
Audubon South Carolina Brings Birding to Everyone
This year Jen Tyrrell, engagement manager at Audubon South Carolina, piloted a partnership program with the Charleston Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired to teach a course on birding by ear for the blind and visually impaired. This program helps visually impaired people to learn about the birds around them by teaching them how to identify species by sounds. Participants also get a sense of the birds’ shapes and sizes by handling and feeling preserved wings, feet and skulls.
Community Gathering at Pascagoula River Audubon Center in Mississippi
As part of Audubon Delta, the Pascagoula River Audubon Center works to integrate science, education and policy in its programs and events. This year Pascagoula River hosted a number of events, including arts summer camps, an art gallery, volunteer conservation days, native plant sales, early-career development for students, and a local hummingbird festival. Pascagoula River also received a community service grant this year, which staff used to partner with University of South Alabama’s Passage USA program and fund jobs for several special-needs students.