New regional treaty a boost to migratory bird programs
BY JOHN HARTIG
If Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz were in Detroit she probably would have said, “Lions and tigers and birds — oh my!” recently when more than 50 people, including students from the Ralph J. Bunche Preparatory Academy in Detroit, came to the Detroit Riverwalk in front of the Outdoor Adventure Center to witness Metropolitan Detroit becoming the 29th U.S. city in the Urban Bird Treaty Program.
Detroit may be best known for professional sports, music, and automobiles, but it is also significant on a continental scale for birds. Metropolitan Detroit is located at the intersection of the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways. Detroit Audubon has identified over 350 birds throughout the area. More than 300,000 diving ducks use the lower Detroit River as stopover habitat during their spring migration. The lower Detroit River is one of the three best places to watch raptor migrations in the U.S., where birders have seen over 100,000 hawks migrating in a single fall day.
The Urban Bird Treaty recognizes migratory bird conservation and educational initiatives in cities, and celebrates the commitment of urban bird partners to develop programs to protect birds and their habitats, as well as connect people to the natural world.
Launched in 1999, the Urban Bird Treaty program is a collaborative effort among federal, state and municipal agencies, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions to create bird-friendly environments and provide citizens, especially youth, with opportunities to connect with nature through birding and conservation. The program emphasizes habitat conservation through invasive species control, native plant restoration, bird-safe building programs, bird and habitat monitoring and education programs.
The Metro Detroit Nature Network championed becoming an Urban Bird Treaty City that included preparing an over 80-page Urban Bird Agenda that summarized Metro Detroit’s bird conservation accomplishments to date, identified key issues currently facing birds in Metropolitan Detroit, and outlining high priority actions and “next steps” for the next five years. Examples of next steps include expanding citizen science programs, reducing hazards to birds like turning off lights on talk buildings, and expanding cooperative programs for bird habitat conservation.
The Metro Detroit Nature Network is a voluntary partnership of conservation and outdoor recreational organizations working to bring conservation to cities and make nature part of everyday urban life.
Current partner organizations include: Michigan Department of Natural Resources, University of Michigan-Dearborn, Detroit Zoo, Detroit Audubon, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, Oakland County Parks, City of Detroit, The Nature Conservancy, Friends of the Detroit River, International Wildlife Alliance, Six Rivers Land Conservancy, Michigan Recreation and Park Association, Greening of Detroit, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, Macomb County Parks, The Erb Foundation, the National Parks Service, and Grosse Ile Nature and Land Conservancy.