US Fish & Wildlife Service



Date of this Version



U.S. Fish and Wildife Service, Division of Migratory Bird Management (April 2003).


Why an Urban Conservation Treaty for Migratory Birds?

For the vast majority of people, birds represent their most frequent contact with wildlife. Birds are a valuable resource, contributing aesthetically, culturally, scientifically, and economically to America’s citizens. Urban areas are critical for migrating birds. Large concentrations of birds migrate along flyways or routes on which many large urban centers have developed. Important bird habitat is often found within these metropolitan areas. With an environmentally aware citizenry dedicated to conserving and enhancing their natural resources, cities can be sanctuaries for migratory birds and other wildlife.

What Is an Urban Conservation Treaty for Migratory Birds?

An Urban Conservation Treaty for Migratory Birds is a partnership agreement between a U.S. city and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to conserve migratory birds through education and habitat improvement. The Service provides challenge grants and technical assistance. The Treaty city develops and implements bird conservation projects, provides matching dollars and in-kind support, and develops additional partnerships.

What Type of Funding Is Provided?

Cities are awarded Service “challenge” grants from $10,000 to $150,000, depending on the scope of projects proposed by city and Service project leaders. The Treaty city is “challenged” to raise an amount equal or greater than the amount of funds awarded by the Service. The match may consist of cash or “in-kind” contributions of goods and services from the Treaty city or third party donors.

What Are the Main Components?

The focus areas of the Urban Conservation Treaty for Migratory Birds are Habitat Creation, Protection, and Restoration; Education and Outreach; Hazard(s) Reduction; and Non-native, Invasive, or Nuisance Animal and Plant Species Management. Each city will work with the Service to develop a customized action plan that specifies goals and objectives in the four focus areas. Some cities may choose to emphasize education programs through teaching bird-focused curricula or constructing schoolyard habitat sites. Others may choose to reach out to individuals in the workplace or owners of tall buildings by providing incentives for dimming or turning lights off at night during peak migration to reduce fatal bird collisions. In all cities, there will be efforts to raise awareness of the public’s role in conserving declining species by creating, protecting and restoring habitat.