US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in The Prairie Naturalist 27(4): December 1995.


The latest vogue in bird conservation is concern over species that breed in the United States and Canada but winter mostly south of the United States-Mexico border. Many neotropical migrant birds have declined in number recently (although many have not). It is perhaps convenient to blame deforestation and other environmental abuses in the tropics for the declines in "our" birds, rather than to look inward at the abuses we in the United States have inflicted. Nonetheless, the concern about neotropical migrants, institutionalized by the Partners in Flight program, has served several purposes. For one, biologists are taking a broader view of the problems these birds face, including breeding-season, migrational, and wintering processes. Also, there is a clearer acknowledgment that political boundaries are not recognized by migratory birds, which has fostered greater international cooperation. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, managers have been sensitized to the plight of the birds and the need to "do something" about their problems.