This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, the most important bird-protection law ever passed. This 100-year-old law laid the groundwork for bird-protection initiatives throughout the country. To celebrate, National Geographic and Audubon Magazine have joined forces with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and BirdLife International to establish 2018 as the Year of the Bird. We would like to take this moment to recognize Wisconsin’s particularly successful endeavors to protect the birds of our state and beyond.

History of bird protection

Photo of eaglets taken on NRF Field Trip “Eagle banding & Voyager Canoe on the Lower Wisconsin River”

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act federally prohibits the ability to hunt, capture or sell any migratory bird, its nest or its eggs. NRF is honored to have had the opportunity to be a part of upholding this protection through some incredibly successful projects. Whether it be saving the Kirtland’s Warbler species from extinction or establishing Bird Cities throughout the state, Wisconsinites know how to show up for our feathery friends when they are in danger.

Over the last century, the law has saved millions, if not billions of birds from human activities that destroy habitat and threaten their ability to survive and reproduce. Still, rate of extinctions appear to be increasing, as a result of extensive habitat destruction, invasive plants and animals, collisions with human-made structures, predatory cats, and pesticides. As of 2017, over 1,300 bird species are under threat, and a total of 197 are Critically Endangered (on the brink of extinction).

How you can help birds

Join the Great Wisconsin Birdathon. One of our most well-loved endeavors is the Great Wisconsin Birdathon. Last year, we raised a record $90,000 to support bird conservation in Wisconsin and along important migratory routes. This year we’re aiming for $100,000 – help us do more for birds!

Help with the Great Backyard Bird Count February 16 – 19. It’s easier than ever to contribute to science. All you need is 15 minutes between Feb 16 and 19th. Just identify and count the birds you see in that time, then share your tally to help scientists create a snapshot of the world’s birds.

Sign on for the Year of the Bird. Through BirdYourWorld.org, visitors will learn about this important cause and sign a pledge, as we have at the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, to participate in a year of action for birds. Our hope is that by harnessing the collective passion and expertise of bird lovers around the world, we can champion causes for birds.

By Hibah Ansari, communications and programs assistant, Natural Resources Foundation