Northeast Bird Habitat Conservation Initiative
The Northeast Bird Habitat Conservation Initiative (NBHCI) is a collaborative effort between The Regional Conservation Partnership (RCP) Network, Audubon groups, Highstead, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
We wish to help the RCP Network connect with bird conservation in ways that advance and expand their efforts, partnerships, and ecological priorities. Together with the technical expertise and resources that Audubon partners and Cornell offer, this initiative can contribute to longer-term land protection objectives across a larger landscape, yielding more benefits for birds, people, and our natural resources.
The three goals of the NBHCI are:
- Raise collective knowledge and consciousness about the importance of birds within RCPs, and create awareness of how bird conservation can help advance regional priorities and assist with private land planning and protection.
- Support and encourage RCP members and partners to adopt eBird as a tool for monitoring, decision-making, and engaging their communities.
- Improve, conserve, and manage priority habitats through projects that support declining populations of target bird species in forests and farmlands of New England and the Mid-Atlantic.
If you are interested in learning more about this initiative or would like to get involved, please contact Katie Blake, Highstead, or Sara Barker, Cornell Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative, for more information.
NBHCI Events, Resources, and Funding
NBHCI Mapping Tool
The NBHCI team has created an easy to use, interactive mapping tool designed to help Regional Conservation Partnerships, land trusts, and practitioners use birds as tools to support activities such as habitat management plan and stewardship development, land prioritization and acquisition strategies, and landowner and community engagement, all through the lens of bird conservation.
This product showcases eBird Status & Trends (S&T) breeding season data for 43 bird species in five habitat types: forest, grassland, shrub/scrub and young forest, wetland/marsh, and coastal/shoreline, and projects these data as GIS layers. The target species were selected based on their high priority status or climate vulnerability. The map includes strategic land conservation data layers, such as The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Resilient and Connected Landscapes Climate data, TNC Protected Open Spaces, and Audubon Important Bird Areas that can be overlaid with eBird data to help inform land planning and bird habitat conservation efforts. A user can also download the S&T data to add into preexisting GIS and land prioritization projects to help support the best use of limited conservation dollars.
We wish to showcase ways in which users can interact with eBird modeled data combined with strategic land conservation data layers to look at high value habitats to inform land planning, bird habitat conservation efforts, and connections with communities through birding, increasing both local and regional conservation impact.
Mapping Tool in the News:
New Conservation Mapping Tool Helps Visualize Opportunities, Highstead Conservation, October, 2022.
Free Mapping Tool Merges Data to Improve Bird Conservation and Land Protection in Northeastern States, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, October 2022.
eBird Mini Grant Recipients
eBird Mini-grants Empower RCPs to Create an eBird Ambassador Network Among partners (2022)
With funding from the Sarah K. de Coizart Perpetual Charitable Trust, eBird mini-grants of $500 were awarded to nine Regional Conservation Partnerships (RCPs) so they can host workshops that train participants within their networks on how to use eBird. The goal is to create an ambassador network that promotes the effectiveness of this birding tool for conservation, monitoring, and community engagement. This article introduces the RCP recipients and their eBird workshop plans.
eBird Webinar Series Resource List (June 2021) eBird training resources that accompany the webinar series are available for RCP leaders and land trusts to use when conducting their own training sessions within their communities.
The Power of eBird: Using Information on Birds to Amplify Conservation, Stewardship, and Community Outreach (6/8/21, recorded webinar) demonstrates the power of eBird and how to teach eBird basics at your own workshop; presented by Sara Barker, Cornell Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative Director and Jenna Curtis, eBird Project Leader.
Conservation Applications of eBird Data and Products (6/15/21, recorded webinar) how to use eBird science data to support activities such as land acquisition, monitoring, and engagement with landowners, stakeholders, and the birding community; presented by Jenna Curtis, eBird Project Leader and Orin Robinson, Research Associate, Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
The Power of Birds in Driving and Sustaining Forest Management within the RCP Network (9/15/21, recorded webinar) looks at how RCPs can utilize birds as ambassadors for sustainable forest management; presented by Steve Hagenbuch, Senior Conservation Biologist and Forester, Audubon Vermont and Annette Goyne, Cold Hollow to Canada RCP Woodlots Program.
Habitat Requirements and Management Considerations for Forest Birds in New England (9/22/21, recorded webinar) helps develop an understanding of what forest conditions and attributes provide high-quality nesting and foraging habitat for a range of priority bird species found in the northeast; presented by Steve Hagenbuch, Senior Conservation Biologist and Forester, Audubon Vermont and Dan Kilborn, Forester, Vermont Land Trust.
Bird-Friendly Forestry Practices and Strategies for Landowners (9/29/21, recorded webinar) explores specific forest management activities and silvicultural options designed to enhance bird habitat while also achieving timber and non-timber forest product, climate adaptation and mitigation, and other ecosystem services goals; presented by Steve Hagenbuch, Senior Conservation Biologist and Forester, Audubon Vermont and Nancy Patch, Cold Hollow to Canada RCP and County Forester with Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation.
Technical and Financial Assistance for RCPs, Conservation Partners, and Landowners (10/13/21, recorded webinar) representatives from Maine and Mass Audubon, as well as Audubon NY, VT, CT, and Mid-Atlantic present various services and learning opportunities to help landowners understand where to begin when managing their forest with birds in mind and how to make the process financially viable; presented by Steve Hagenbuch, Senior Conservation Biologist and Forester, Audubon Vermont and partners from the organizations listed above.
Bird-friendly Forestry Webinar Series Resource List (September/October 2021) these resources provide information to help advance bird-friendly forestry opportunities in your region.
Grassland Bird Conservation (3/16/22, slides) highlighted the decline in grassland bird species, described the Bobolink Project, and previewed the new “North Quabbin Grassland Birdscape” initiative headed by Mass Audubon through the NBHCI. Presented by Jeff Ritterson, field ornithologist at Mass Audubon, at a North Quabbin Regional Landscape Partnership meeting.
Workshop held at Bascom Hollow Farm (9/8/22) brought farmers, land trusts, and service providers together to discuss the connections between grassland bird conservation, soil health, and hay and pasture productivity.
Grassland Bird Programs (6/24/20, recorded webinar) accelerating farmland protection and management for both birds and farmers through the Ag Allies and Bobolink Projects; presented by Jon Atwood, Director of Bird Conservation for Mass Audubon and Laura Lecker, Technical Director, Ag Allies.
Migratory Bird Treaty Act (10/1/20, recorded webinar) perspectives on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; presented by David Mears, Executive Director of Audubon Vermont.
Forestry for Maine Birds (5/28/20, recorded webinar) how to effectively manage forests with birds and other wildlife in mind, through the lens of Maine Audubon’s Forestry for Maine Birds initiative; presented by Sally Stockwell, Maine Audubon and Amanda Mahaffey, Forest Steward Guild.
Building Strategic Bird Conservation Partnerships with Private Land Networks (9/16/22) presentation at the Land Trust Alliance Rally 2022 in New Orleans, LA on how partnerships, such as the Regional Conservation Partnership Network, can lead to more collective climate resiliency across a larger landscape through bird-focused land prioritization, healthy forest, and sustainable grassland practices. Presented by Steve Hagenbuch, Senior Conservation Biologist and Forester, Audubon Vermont; Sara Barker, Director of Cornell Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative, Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Julia Fitzpatrick, Land Conservation Coordinator and TerraCorps Member, Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust.
NBHCI Mapping Tool Focus Group (7/20/22) presented the NBHCI Mapping Tool to a group of conservation professionals in the Northeast, including members of NBHCI not directly involved in the project and Regional Conservation Partnership coordinators, to receive constructive feedback on the tool as well as insight into how conservationists can implement the tool to further their strategic planning and goals.
Zoom Meetings with RCPs and Audubon groups in CT, NY, MA, VT, and ME (March 2020) facilitated discussions between RCPs, Audubon groups, Highstead, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in each listed state around opportunities for collaboration, goal alignment, and potential pilot projects to use as proof of concept.
Northeast Bird Habitat Conservation Initiative Summit (9/5/19) held at Harvard Forest offered a presentation to help summit meeting participants better understand Regional Conservation Partnerships, the background of the NBHCI, identify partner overlap and priorities, and generate ideas for actionable pilot projects and funding opportunities.
Northeast Bird Habitat Conservation Initiative (11/15/18, slides) presentation at the 2018 RCP Network Gathering Conference in Amherst, MA during the emerging landscape initiatives workshop; by Bill Labich, Senior Conservationist Highstead; Sara Barker, Cornell Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative Director; Matt Strimas-Mackey, Data Scientist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; and Hallie Schwab, Conservationist Highstead.
Sarah K. deCoizart Perpetual Charitable Trust Grant (2021) The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the NBHCI, with Highstead’s support, was awarded a 2-year grant to train RCP leaders and partners to use eBird, eBird science data, and bird friendly forestry techniques, as well as support partners such as Audubon Vermont, Ag Allies, Mass Audubon, and RCPs with effective management implementation on ecologically important forests, grasslands, and farmlands for at-risk bird species in the Northeast.
Cornell Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative Small Grant (2021) The Kennebec Estuary Land Trust (KELT) is partnering with Ag Allies to protect Maine’s grassland birds through the Expanding Grassland Bird Education and Conservation in Maine project focusing on utilizing Maine’s sophisticated network of land trusts and RCPs to inform grassland bird-friendly land management practices.
NFWF New England Forests and Rivers Fund Grant (2020) National Audubon Society, Audubon Vermont (AVT), and Audubon NY (ANY) were awarded a grant to improve forest management practices through Audubon’s Woods, Wildlife, and Warblers program and continue to work with family forest owners, professional foresters and industry in the Lake Champlain and Upper Hudson watersheds in New York and Lake Champlain Basin in Vermont. These funds will enable AVT and ANY to build a partnership with the following RCPs – Cold Hollow to Canada, Champlain Valley Conservation Partnership, and Northern Addison County RCP.