Urban Bird Treaty Program Guidebook

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Urban Bird Treaty Program Guidebook

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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Urban Bird Treaty
Program Guidebook V.4
Making Cities Healthier Places for Birds and People

January 2020
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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service alone cannot achieve
the conservation of migratory birds—
it will take the collective and coordinated efforts
of thousands of partner organizations
and communities to do this.
Birds are everywhere
and we all have a responsibility
to act on their behalf.
The more clearly we can focus our attention
on the wonders and realities of the universe
about us the less taste we shall have
for the destruction of our race.
— Rachel Carson

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Gratitude to all the partners working in Urban Bird Treaty cities on projects to conserve urban birds and their
habitats for the benefit of these incredible species, other wildlife, and people, especially future generations
who will be able to enjoy the beauty and wonder of birds and natural areas in their cities.
Gratitude to members of the Urban Bird Treaty Evaluation Team for all their efforts in developing the program
changes that are reflected in this updated guidebook. Thank you to all the Service staff who participated in the
UBT Self-Assessment and to all the UBT partners who participated in the Partner Assessment. Thanks to the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Human Dimensions Branch, the National Wildlife Refuge System Visitor’s
Services and Communication leadership and staff, and DJ Case and Associates for developing the Partner
Assessment tool. Thank you to the Migratory Bird Leadership Team for all their support in helping move the
UBT program forward. Thanks to all the leadership and staff of the Urban Wildlife Conservation Program for
their ongoing support of and collaboration with the Urban Bird Treaty program at all levels. Special thanks to
Nanette Seto for her leadership and support of the UBT Program and its evolution. Special thanks to all the
leadership and staff of the Urban Wildlife Conservation Program, especially Angelina Yost, for their ongoing
support of and collaboration with the Urban Bird Treaty program at all levels. Thank you to Kristin Madden
(USFWS), Chelsi Burns (USFWS), Scott Schwenk (USFWS), John Rowden (National Audubon Society), Bryan
Lenz (American Bird Conservancy), Susan Heisey (USFWS), and Margaret Rheude (USFWS) for their helpful
comments and edits on drafts of this guidebook. And last but not least, gratitude to Deb Reynolds, USFWS
Migratory Bird Program for her expertise in designing and formatting this publication.
Author: Roxanne E. Bogart, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Program
CItation: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (2020). Urban Bird Treaty Program Guidebook V.3: Making Cities
Healthier Places for Birds and People. Hadley, MA.
Cover photo: Philadelphia hosts an extensive system of urban parks and green spaces. USFWS
Photo to the left: The female Northern Cardinal is one of only a few female North American songbirds that sings, which she does
often while sitting on the nest. Jane Gamble
Back Cover: Children walking in the woods with an adult. USFWS

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Table of Contents

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I. Introduction to the Urban Bird Treaty Program�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 5

1. Purpose of the UBT Program������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 5
2. Making a Difference for Urban Birds������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 6
3. The Importance of Birds and Their Habitats to People���������������������������������������������������������������������������� 7
4. The Importance of Green Space to Urban Communities������������������������������������������������������������������������� 8
5. Why Become an Urban Bird Treaty City?������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 8
II. Urban Bird Treaty Designation Program Information��������������������������������������������������������������������������� 9
1. How to Apply for UBT City Designation�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 9
2. Resources for Implementation Plan Development���������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 9
3. Signing Ceremonies and Anniversary Celebrations������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 10
4. UBT City Network Benefits������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 11
5. UBT City Reporting Requirements�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 11
III. Urban Bird Treaty Grant Program Information������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 12

1. NFWF Five Star Program Description���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 12
2. UBT Grant Program Details������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 12
3. Examples of Funded Activities�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 13
4. Sources of Additional Funding for Community-based Conservation������������������������������������������������������ 14
IV. Urban Bird Treaty Program Goal Descriptions������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 15
1. Protect, Restore, and Enhance Urban Habitats for Birds����������������������������������������������������������������������� 15
a. The Importance of Urban Habitats to Birds�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 15
b. Habitats Urban Birds Need�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 15
c. Considering Effects on People���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 16
d. Urban Birds to Target for Habitat ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 17
2. Reduce Urban Hazards to Birds������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 17
a. Hazards to Birds in Urban Areas������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 17
b. Reducing Urban Hazards to Birds ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 18
c. Influencing Human Behavior������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 19
d. Urban Hazards to Focus On ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 19
3. Educate and Engage Urban Communities in Caring About and Conserving Urban Birds and their Habitats����� 22
a. Why Engage Local Communities������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 22
b. Types of Community Activities �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 23
V. Urban Bird Treaty Program Informational Resources�������������������������������������������������������������������������� 24
1. Conserve Urban Habitats for Birds������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 24
2. Reduce Urban Hazards for Birds����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 27
3. Community Education and Engagement ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 29
VI. Urban Wildlife Conservation Program Standards of Excellence������������������������������������������������������ 33
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I. Introduction to the UBT Program
1. Purpose of the UBT Program
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) created the Urban Conservation Treaty for Migratory Birds
program (Urban Bird Treaty or UBT, https://www.fws.gov/program/urban-bird-treaty) to support partnerships
of local, state, and federal government agencies, non-profit organizations, corporations, and local
communities in conserving birds that live in and migrate through urban areas. The program has the dual focus
of carrying out bird conservation while educating and engaging local communities in caring about and
conserving birds and habitats in their neighborhoods and cities. City partnerships work on a three pillar
system of bird habitat conservation, bird hazard reduction, and community engagement. The Service launched
the UBT program in 1999 and signed the first two treaties
with New Orleans and Chicago. The treaty is a non-binding
Visit the UBT Story Map for example treaties
partnership agreement between a U.S. city and the Service
and information on UBT city activities.
that promotes the benefits of urban bird conservation
to the city and its communities and expresses the city’s
support for helping achieve the goals of the UBT program.
The UBT program is administered through the Service’s Migratory Bird Program and is part of the interprogrammatic Urban Wildlife Conservation Program (UWCP), which includes Urban Wildlife Refuges (UWR)
and Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships (UWRP) located in urban areas all across the U.S. (see Figure 1). These
programs likewise work to empower local organizations in urban areas to seek innovative community-based
solutions that promote environmental equity and inclusion, and healthy environments for wildlife and people.
The UWCP programs overlap geographically and programmatically and many cities host active UBT
partnerships, UWRs, and/or UWRPs. For more information on the UWCP, visit https://www.fws.gov/program/

101 Urban
Wildlife Refuges

32 Urban Wildlife
Refuge Partnerships

31 Urban Bird
Treaty Cities

To engage
urban audiences
with fish and wildlife
conservation and achieve the
Standards of Excellence by providing
experiences that are compatible
with the refuge’s existing wildlife
conservation purposes.

To establish
long-term, place-based
partnerships that engage urban
communities in conservation
issues on lands that the Service
does not own or govern.

To help alleviate
bird population declines
and create connected
conservation communities, by
creating opportunities for people
in urban areas to access and
connect with nature through
bird-related activities.

Figure 1. The Service’s Urban Wildlife Conservation Program structure. Sandy Spakoff/USFWS
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The UBT program’s mission is to help alleviate
bird population declines and create connected
conservation communities through enhanced
opportunities for people living in urban areas to
engage in bird-related conservation, recreation,
education, science, and monitoring.
The UBT program’s vision: Cities where birds and
people can thrive.
The UBT program’s tagline: Making cities healthier
places for birds and people.
The goals of the UBT program are to:

Protect, restore, and enhance urban habitats
for birds.


Reduce urban hazards to birds.


Engage urban communities in caring about
and conserving birds and their habitats.

The UBT program operates two main program

American Robin is a common urban and suburban bird species
that forages largely on lawns, making it vulnerable to pesticide
poisoning. Becky Matsubara, Creative Commons

1. A grant program administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) through its Five Star
and Urban Waters Restoration Grant Program (https://www.nfwf.org/fivestar/Pages/home.aspx), and
2. A designation program whereby the Service designates Urban Bird Treaty cities through a
comprehensive nomination and reporting process for interested and eligible city partners.
Both program elements are designed to foster and support strong and sustainable partnerships among the
Service, city governments, and other public and private organizations committed to achieving the mission and
goals of the UBT program. The UBT grant program through the NFWF Five Star Program funds communitybased conservation projects designed to protect and conserve urban birds and their habitats while providing
opportunities for local communities to deepen their connection with the natural world by engaging in birdrelated activities. Cities outside the UBT network are eligible to apply for NFWF Five Star-UBT program grants.

2. Making a Difference for Urban Birds
In North America, one in four breeding birds have been lost in the past 50 years and birds across the U.S. are
declining in every habitat type except wetlands, where years of policy and funding investments are paying off
(visit https://www.stateofthebirds.org/2022/state-of-the-birds-at-a-glance/). Urban landscapes and
communities have important roles to play in helping reverse these bird population declines. Cities can become
safer, healthier places for birds and other wildlife with committed partners that are fostering environmentally
aware communities dedicated to conserving bird habitats and reducing environmental hazards.
Community engagement in restoring bird habitats in parks, schoolyards, backyards, places of worship,
roadsides, and right-of-ways can make a big difference for birds. Reducing the threats of building glass and
lights in airspace and the hazards of chemicals, plastics, invasive species, and non-native predators is also
crucial to improving bird survival in cities. Through the UBT program, partners are working hard to enhance
their city’s livability for birds that nest in and migrate through their urban areas. This is not only good for
birds, but also for other wildlife, and the health and well-being of people living in and visiting cities.

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Each of us makes decisions in our daily lives that
have the potential to either help or hinder wildlife.
In the case of helping birds, it can be something as
simple as keeping pet cats inside, turning off the
lights overnight during fall and spring migration,
marking glass windows to make them visible
to birds, participating in community science
programs, buying shade-grown coffee, or choosing
bird-friendly native plants for a schoolyard habitat
restoration site.
The UBT program promotes such beneficial actions
by individuals, groups, and communities at specific
sites as well as at broader landscape scales through
comprehensive planning. It also encourages partners
to work collaboratively toward system changes that
can ensure bird conservation is integral to how cities
operate and urban communities live. All of these
approaches—site, landscape, and system-based
efforts—help to ensure long-term, sustainable
conservation for the benefit of future generations.

3. The Importance of Birds and Their
Habitats to People
Birds are a valuable resource, contributing
aesthetically, culturally, scientifically, recreationally,
and economically to America’s communities. Birds
are integral parts of our landscapes, providing
important—sometimes irreplaceable—functions:
birds pollinate plants, disperse seeds, play critical
roles in food webs as predators and prey, and
provide important functions in pest control. For
the vast majority of people in urban areas, birds
represent their most frequent contact with wildlife.
Birds are indicators of the health of our
environment. Changes in their populations can
provide an indication of changes in the quantity
and quality of the habitats, natural resources, and
environments that people live in, use, and depend
on. Habitats such as forests, meadows, and wetlands
not only support birds but also provide important
societal services such as flood control, groundwater
recharge, pollutant filtration, air and water quality
control, pollinators, and carbon sequestration.
Bird habitats also provide places for people to spend
time outdoors deepening their connection with
nature, which has been shown to improve people’s
health and quality of life. Birdwatching, for example,

Spending time outdoors walking in the woods can deepen our
connection with nature and improve our health and well-being.
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promotes improved mental and physical well-being as a focused, meditative outdoor activity that involves
physical movement. It also can be a partially, or entirely, indoor activity with similar benefits. Planning for
urban growth while providing green space, especially for underserved communities, is imperative.
The level of bird-related recreation is a strong indicator of the value of birds to society. Nature-based
recreation is the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry. According to the findings of the 2022
National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation produced by the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, more than 96.3 million people watch birds and 80% of the overall wildlife watching public
are urban residents.

4. The Importance of Green Space to Urban Communities
Providing more and better access to green space promotes healthier urban communities. These human
health and well-being benefits include psychological relaxation, reduced depression and stress, improved
social cohesion, safer outdoor environments, greater psychological attachment to home, immune system
benefits, and enhanced physical activity. Green space can also provide ecosystem services associated with
reduced exposures to noise, air pollution, and excessive heat. Improving availability of green spaces in
ethnically diverse, underserved, and underrepresented communities can help promote environmental
justice and health equality in urban populations and address deep-rooted inequities in access to parks and
other natural areas.
Urban green space may also provide important economic and ecological co-benefits such as reducing fossil
fuel usage through enhanced cycling and walking and supporting wildlife habitat and biodiversity. In
addition, tree canopy and bird species diversity has been shown to benefit property values. Overall, cities
that create and maintain well-connected, attractive green spaces are likely to have healthier and more
productive people, neighborhoods, and communities with fewer demands for health services and reduced
crime rates. Green cities are safer, happier cities.

5. Why Become An Urban Bird Treaty City?

The UBT program’s supportive networks of local, regional, and national partners help you achieve goals
for making your city a healthier place for birds and people through enhanced partner collaboration.


The UBT program gives you opportunities to share and learn from other partners’ tools, tactics,
successes, and challenges to advance your urban conservation efforts.


You can strengthen the cohesion and effectiveness of your local partnerships by coming together and
working under the banner of the UBT program.


Engaging diverse and underserved communities grows our conservation umbrella and strengthens
community connections through the development of shared conservation goals.


The UBT federal designation gives you improved access to funding through the National Fish and Wildlife
Foundations’ Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration grant program, as UBT cities receive priority
consideration during grant proposal review in this program.


The UBT federal designation can help you garner additional funds through other urban conservation grant
programs that have shared goals and objectives.


By working on UBT habitat conservation and hazard reduction activities you can simultaneously achieve
native plant and pollinator conservation, green building credits, reduced energy costs, green space
requirements, environmental equity, and other sustainability goals.


You can promote the livability and sustainability of your city by spreading the word about your city’s UBT
federal designation and all the benefits of a green and bird-friendly city.

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II. UBT Designation Program Information
1. How to Apply for UBT City Designation

While any city can work to become a bird-friendly city, only a select few are designated by the Service
to receive federal status as an Urban Bird Treaty city. The following describes the process for partners
to nominate their city for UBT city status:
1. Contact the UBT national coordinator at [email protected] to request the UBT City Designation
Toolkit. After reviewing this toolkit, email the UBT national coordinator to set up a call to discuss in detail
the nomination requirements and process, which are described in brief below.
2. To nominate your city for UBT city status, you must submit a letter of intention from the city’s core team of
partners that details its commitment to urban bird conservation and community engagement in bird-related
education, recreation, conservation, and science. Support and involvement by the city government is
3. Along with the letter above, submit an implementation plan or “Bird Agenda” that includes the following
a. Detailed description of the importance of the city to migrating, nesting, and overwintering birds,
habitats, population size of the city, and socioeconomic profile of the human communities present and
those targeted for education and engagement programs (see https://headwaterseconomics.
org/tools/usfws-indicators/). Cities must be at least 100,000 in population size but may include the
metropolitan area if activities span that wide a geography. If not, only the municipality’s population size
counts towards designation (see b below).
b. Map of the geographic area that is being nominated for designation; suburban areas around the city
may be included in the nominated area if comprehensive activities are ongoing or planned for those
areas (i.e. metropolitan area).
c. List of individuals and organizations that are active in the partnership that is applying for designation,
and contact information. A core UBT city team must be established and include at least three people
from three organizations.
d. The mission, goals, and objectives of the partnership applying for designation, organized by the three
UBT goal categories (see page 6).
e. Description of accomplishments (e.g., activities, products, outcomes) that have been completed over
the last two to three years, the audiences and communities reached/engaged through those activities,
and the partner organizations that have achieved them, organized by UBT goal categories.
f. Description of strategies, actions, tools/products that are being planned for the next three to five
years under the UBT designation, the objectives to be accomplished, the audiences and communities
targeted for engagement, and the partners who will complete the work, organized by UBT goal
categories. Include monitoring and assessment efforts as part of an adaptive management approach.
4. Partners will be notified within three months if their UBT application was accepted. Applications are
approved based on how well the implementation plan addresses the three goals of the UBT program and
the strength and sustainability of the partnership submitting the application. The plan should include both
site-based projects and activities as well as longer-term plans for landscape-level and system changes that
promote the UBT program goals.

2. Resources for implementation Plan Development
Please use the UBT City Designation Toolkit to develop the UBT nomination package. Sections IV and V of this
document provide more in-depth descriptions of the three goals of the UBT program and links to resources to

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assist partners in developing their Implementation Plans programs. Please also refer to the UBT program
Story Map for descriptions of existing UBT city programs and activities. The Service UWCP’s Standards of
Excellence can be found in Section VI and provide additional guidance for developing plans, activities, and
programs in collaboration with communities. Also visit this UWCP page for more information about these
For specific examples of the kinds of activities to consider including in your Implementation Plan, please refer
to the UBT City Designation Toolkit document entitled "Example Partner Actions and City Attributes." The
actions listed in this document are based on the Bird City Network's (BCN) state-based Bird City program
requirements. The BCN programs are run by different organizations but share similar goals to those of the
UBT program.
Below are links to example UBT city implementation plans that were created before the above UBT
Designation Program process was developed but may be helpful for prospective partners.
Guide to Urban Bird Conservation for the Twin Cities and Surrounding Area:
Chicago Bird Agenda: https://www.chicago.gov/dam/city/depts/doe/general/
Portland Bird Agenda: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/article/354681

3. Signing Ceremonies and
Anniversary Celebrations

Once your city’s nomination pacakge is accepted,
partners work with the Service to host an official
signing ceremony where leaders from the city, the
Service, and other partners and community groups
gather to celebrate the city’s UBT designation by
signing a non-binding partnership-based treaty
document. At most events, leaders from the city, the
Service, congressionals, and other partner
organizations speak to attendees and present official
proclamations or resolutions regarding the
importance of urban bird and habitat conservation
to the city and its communities. Cities often
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Wendi Weber
the Providence Urban Bird Treaty with Mayor Jorge O.
designate one day each year to celebrate birds at an
and elementary school students from Paul Cuffee
annual World Migratory Bird Day festival or similar
School’s Wild Kids Club at Roger Williams Park. Bridget
event. After the formal ceremony, partners typically
host education and outreach events for local
students who are involved in the city’s UBT educational programs. To see example UBT city
treaties and proclamations from cities, visit the UBT Story Map.
UBT cities are also encouraged to celebrate 5, 10, or/and 20-year designation anniversaries as a way to
recommit to UBT goals and efforts and reinvigorate city partnerships. These events are typically held on the
city’s annual World Migratory Bird Day or during other yearly nature festivals. Contact the UBT national
coordinator for more information.

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4. UBT City Network Benefits
Once a nomination package is approved, city partners will be given a high resolution UBT logo to use for
outreach purposes and are invited to become part of a UBT Community of Practice that hosts supportive,
informational conference calls, webinars, and workshops.
The UBT program also provides a variety of opportunities for national and regional promotion of UBT
partnership accomplishments through various communication and outreach efforts and products, including:
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Urban Bird Treaty web page stories
- Urban Bird Treaty Program Story Map
- Urban Bird Treaty Facebook Group
- Urban Bird Treaty Community of Practice webinars, which are recorded
UBT city designation increases the likelihood of being awarded funding through the National Fish and Wildlife
Foundation’s Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Grant Program (see Section III) as active UBT cities
receive extra points in the UBT grant program rating tool. Visit the NFWF-UBT Grant Program Story Map for
more information on urban bird conservation projects funded through the NFWF Five Star Program.

5. UBT City Reporting Requirements
City partners are required to report on accomplishments annually or biennially based on objectives laid out in
the city’s implementation plan, if available. All activities and accomplishments should be organized by UBT
goal categories using the appropriate UBT program reporting form and by providing stories and photos used
for communications and promotional purposes. These reporting requirements supplement any reporting that
cities are doing through the NFWF Five Star grant program. Reporting is used for accountability and
storytelling purposes and is required to maintain an active UBT status. Implementation plans must be updated
every five years and resubmitted to maintain active status.
Questions? Please contact Roxanne Bogart, UBT Program National Coordinator.
Roxanne Bogart
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Migratory Bird Program
413-253-8582 (phone)
413-253-8424 (fax) [email protected]

The Bird The Preserves initiative was launched in 2016 to promote Chicago’s Forest Preserves as a world-class destination for
birding—and to expose new audiences to this popular activity. Forest Preserves of Cook County
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III. UBT Grant Program Information

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1. NFWF Five Star Program Description
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Grant program (Five Star
program) funds community-based conservation projects in U.S. cities. The Service’s Migratory Bird Program
contributes funds every year to this competitive grant program to support partnerships working on urban bird
conservation in both UBT and non-UBT cities. The Five Star program includes funding from several other
partner programs and organizations, including the Service’s Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships program, the
U.S. Forest Service, Environmental Protection Agency, and various corporate and private donors. Funds from
these various partners total over $1 million annually and are leveraged with one another to collaboratively
fund projects. For information on grant funded activities, please visit the NFWF-UBT Grant Program Story Map.

2. UBT Grant Program Details
The UBT grants are awarded every year to a handful of high quality proposals that are submitted by nonfederal partners to the NFWF Five Star grant program. Grants range in size from $30k to $60k with a partner
match requirement of 1 to 0.75, and are either one or two-year awards. Projects funded through the grant
program should include habitat restoration, hazard reduction, and community education and engagement
activities that meet the goals of the UBT program. The NFWF Five Star Request for Proposals is typically
released in early November with a proposal deadline of the end of January. For more information, please visit
the NFWF Five Star program web site at https://www.nfwf.org/fivestar/Pages/home.aspx.
Projects are ranked based on their UBT designation status, the scale and quality of project activities, the
number of UBT goals addressed by activities, budget appropriateness, the number and diversity of
contributing partners, and the sustainability of the partnership and programs. Non-federal partners carrying
out urban bird conservation in cities within and outside the UBT city network are eligible to apply.

The Barn Swallow uses both urban and farmland areas for breeding and build their cup-shaped mud nests almost exclusively on human-made structures. Loren Chipman, Creative Commons
12 | UBT Program Guidebook

3. Examples of Funded Activities
The NFWF-Urban Bird Treaty grant program offers a great deal of flexibility to incorporate project activities
that are appropriate for each city and its local issues and communities. This allows cities to be creative and
develop projects that will have the greatest benefits to migratory and resident birds and local people. The
following are examples of the kinds of activities typically funded as a part of successful UBT proposals:

Engage volunteers from diverse and under-resourced communities in restoring a city park or vacant lot by
planting native grasses, shrubs, and trees and/or removing non-native, invasive species.


Work with the local planning department to develop a habitat conservation and management plan that
over time will increase the quality and connectivity of natural areas throughout the city to improve wildlife
movement and community access.


Work with the local parks department to switch to non-lethal deterrents to protect plants from
overabundant or nuisance animal species and/or reduce chemical fertilizers and pesticides in a
demonstration garden and other park settings.


Create a program that engages building owners in voluntarily retrofitting hazardous building glass and
participating in a Lights Out/Dark Skies program.


Engage students from a diverse and underserved community in planning, developing, monitoring, and
maintaining a schoolyard bird habitat.


Educate and engage local community members and birders to lead bird trips, monitor restoration sites, or
carry out a bird collision monitoring program.


Hire a local printing company and ethnically diverse artisan community to develop and produce
educational products on reducing bird hazards from building glass, free-roaming cats, pesticides, and
hazardous trash.


Host an annual World Migratory Bird Day Festival, adopt a city bird, create a city birding trail, and
announce a city proclamation supporting bird conservation.
For more information on grant funded activities, please visit the NFWF-UBT Grant Program Story Map.

Bird banding event in Hartford, CT. Joan Morrison

Volunteers working together to plant trees along the West
River in Hartford, CT. Park Watershed
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Questions about the NFWF Five Star program? Please contact:
Carrie Clingan 	or					
Program Director					
Community Stewardship and Youth			
[email protected]

Roxanne Bogart
National Coordinator
Urban Bird Treaty Program
[email protected]

4. Sources of Additional Funding for Community-based Conservation
America the Beautiful
Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership
USDA Urban Forestry Grants
USDA $10M for Reforestation through Forest Nursery and Native Seed Partnerships
Urban Waters Federal Partnership
Land Use Innovation Grants
Chesapeake WILD
USDA Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Grants
Cornell Lab of Ornithology Land Trust Small Grants
National Park Service Community Assistance Programs
Sustainable Forest Initiative Community Grants
Begin with Habitat Conservation, Improvement, and Planning Funding Opportunities
Environmental Conservation and Justice Funders
Society for Non-profits Environmental Funding
Watershed Funding Opportunities
National Education Association Urban Grants
National Environmental Education Foundation
Disney Conservation Fund

The Urban Bird Treaty Story Map provides a wealth of information about UBT city partners and their conservation programs and
activities for urban birds and their habitats. Roxanne Bogart
14 | UBT Program Guidebook

IV. UBT Program Goal Descriptions
The following sections provide more detailed information, guidance, and resources to assist prospective and
existing UBT city partners in developing UBT city implementation plans that address the three UBT city goals.
Submission of an implementation plan is required as part of the UBT designation program application process
(see page 9). Section V provides links to additional on-line information and resources.

1. Protect, Restore, and Enhance Urban Habitats for Birds
a. The Importance of Urban Habitats for Birds. The widespread loss and degradation of habitat is the biggest
driver of bird population declines. Human development of the natural landscape has resulted in the
destruction and degradation of habitat for many species of birds and the trends in urban sprawl continue.
Over 83% of the U.S. population is urbanized and over half of the land area in the U.S. is occupied by humans.
For this reason, conserving, restoring, and managing urban habitats for birds is a major goal of the Urban Bird
Treaty program.
b. Habitats Urban Birds Need. Bird use a wide variety of habitats for feeding, nesting, roosting, resting,
and protection from predators. Habitats in urban areas are important for birds that nest and overwinter in
cities and especially for birds that move through urban areas during their fall and spring migrations. Large
concentrations of birds migrate along four major North American flyways or routes (i.e., Atlantic, Mississippi,
Central and Pacific flyways) on which many large urban centers are located. Important migratory bird habitat
is often found in and around these metropolitan areas. Stopover habitats are particularly important for birds
to rest and refuel during their long migratory journeys.
Birds will use small patches of urban habitat—and even street trees—for shelter, foraging, and sometimes
nesting. Therefore, efforts to restore vacant lots to pocket parks and incorporate green roofs on buildings can
benefit many species of birds. Likewise, restoring, enhancing, and managing habitat in local parks,
schoolyards, places of worship, corporate building lots, backyards, rights-of-way, sidewalks, road islands, and
other “leftover areas” can add up to significant urban habitat for birds. Providing artificial and natural nesting
and roosting sites is important for chimney swifts, purple martins, wood ducks, wrens, nuthatches, and other
cavity nesting species. Riparian areas along rivers and lake fronts are particularly important for migrating birds
that follow and cross these water systems, and when restored and managed, can serve as buffer areas helping
improve water quality for local communities in addition to benefiting many other wildlife species. Acquiring or
protecting natural areas, or other unprotected open space, through easements often may be the first step. If
habitat is restored or acquired near buildings, the glass should be retrofitted to prevent bird collisions.
The most important facet of restoring urban bird habitat is ensuring that native plants, including trees, shrubs,
grasses, and perennial flowers, are planted as part
of the restoration effort. Native plants are of value
not only for the shelter and direct resources they
provide but for the higher insect populations that
these plant species support compared to nonnative plants. Food-rich vegetation—even on small
lots—can make a difference for birds. All kinds of
habitats are important for birds, including forests,
woodlands, wetlands, grasslands, meadows,
prairies, and riparian areas.
Green roofs—roofs covered in soil and a variety of
native plants—are a great solution to creating bird
habitat in cities where ground space is limited.
Studies have shown that a variety of birds use

Students planting native shrubs at their schoolyard habitat in
New Haven, CT. Audubon CT

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green roofs for feeding, breeding, nesting, and
resting. Green roofs also reduce stormwater run-off,
decrease heating and cooling costs, reduce flooding,
can be used as amenity spaces, and their costs are
often mitigated by their benefits.
Considerations of habitat conservation in the short
and long-term and at both the site and larger
landscape scales are all important. Enlarging the
extent of an existing park or other natural areas
to increase connections among habitats is vital
for allowing birds and other wildlife to move
more safely among sites and promotes urban
biodiversity. Likewise, working collaboratively to
establish greenways, corridors, and other largescale greenscapes, and to offer broad-scale habitat
certification programs are effective strategies to
foster connectivity among city natural areas.
Working collaboratively toward system changes
that promote bird habitat conservation, through
government actions and participation by large
segments of the community, can make a big
difference in providing habitat over larger areas
and for the long-term. This requires targeting
education and outreach to engage communities
and governments in promoting sustainable
behaviors and actions that benefit birds and their
habitats. Green infrastructure planning, design
and management, native plant requirements, and
designation of no mow zones are examples.
Undertaking pre- and post-restoration site
monitoring of plant, bird, insect, and other wildlife
species to establish baseline data and determine
responses to actions is important to adaptively
improve conservation efforts over time. These
assessment activities also provide opportunities for
community education and engagement. (Removal
and control of invasive species prior to restoration
is covered in the Goal 2: Reduce Urban Hazards
c. Considering Effects on People. Both the positive
and adverse effects of habitat conservation
projects on communities need to be considered.
Working to ensure that low income, underserved
communities have equal access to green space while
preventing “green gentrification” should be a critical
component of projects. Engagement of residents
and local organizations as co-creators, designers,
managers and users of greenspace—not as passive
16 | UBT Program Guidebook

Many migratory birds arrive to find city
habitat destroyed by development, overrun by exotic species, or polluted and
depleted by human use. Led by Atlanta
Audubon, Atlanta’s Urban Bird Treaty
projects engage communities in creating
and enhancing bird-friendly habitat by
eradicating invasive, exotic plants and
installing native plants in urban green
spaces to provide quality bird foraging,
nesting, and stopover habitat. This work
has occurred at places such as Emma
Wetlands at Blue Heron Nature Preserve
and The Confluence of Peachtree
Creek— Atlanta Audubon’s initial birdfriendly habitat restoration projects
which now serve as models for future
projects. Project sites—which engage
the local community in restoration and
monitoring and involve multiple partners
around Atlanta—have attracted nearly
125 species of birds, indicating the
importance of Atlanta’s urban habitats
to birds and other wildlife.

Atlanta Youth Corps crew working on a habitat
restoration project at Emma Wetlands. Adam Betuel,
Atlanta Audubon

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consumers—is key to helping prevent gentrification.
When creating greenspaces, concomitant efforts are
often needed to ensure low income housing and job
opportunities are retained or developed to promote
both economic and environmental equity.
d. Urban Birds to Target for Habitat Conservation.
Many bird species live in and migrate through
urban areas, especially many common species (see
us/). Some common birds are in decline such as
Eastern Meadowlark, Chimney Swift, Field Sparrow,
Common Grackle, and American Tree Sparrow and
may occur in cities during all or some part of the
year (see http://www.partnersinflight.org/wpcontent/uploads/2016/08/pif-continental-plan-finalspread-single.pdf).

Eastern Meadowlark is a Partners in Flight Common Bird in
Steep Decline that is a frequent visitor of backyard bird
feeders. Kelly Cogan-Azar

Be sure to consider the benefits of urban areas to
Birds of Conservation Concern and Watchlist species that may overwinter or journey through the city
during fall and spring migrations. Lists of these species can be found at https://www.fws.gov/media/birdsconservation-concern-2021 and https://www.stateofthebirds.org/2022/. Species that are of priority in
your state and Migratory Bird Joint Venture region can be found by visiting https://www.fishwildlife.org/
afwa-informs/state-wildlife-action-plans and http://mbjv.org.
Evaluation and adaptive management are key to success:
Download Prism’s Evaluation Toolkit at Conservation Standards
and the U.S. Department of Interior’s
Adaptive Management Technical Guide.
Please see Page 24 in Section V for a comprehensive list
of resources for conserving urban habitats for birds.

2. Reduce Urban Hazards to Birds
a. Hazards to Birds in Urban Areas. While cities can provide important bird habitats, which give people places
to deepen their connection with nature, human development and activity in urban areas pose many threats
to birds. As a result, cities will never be totally safe environments for birds and other wildlife. These threats
include direct bird mortality from free-roaming cats, collisions with building glass and towers, disorientation
and exhaustion by artificial lights at night, ingestion of and entanglement with hazardous trash, predation by
exotic animals, invasions by non-native plants, and pesticide and other chemical contaminations. The last two
threats also contribute to indirect mortality through reduced habitat quality and declines in prey populations.
The degree of bird mortality caused by human-made structures in airspace habitat (e.g., building glass, lights,
towers, wind turbines, and power lines) and by human-introduced objects and animals (e.g., contaminants,
invasive plants, plastics, fish netting, and free-roaming cats) have had a devastating cumulative impact on bird
populations, especially migratory birds. Migration exposes birds to these and many other dangers and is
considered to be the most hazardous life stage so ensuring safe migration airspace and ground habitat is
critical to conserving migratory birds. For this reason, reducing urban hazards to birds is a primary goal of the
UBT program.
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b. Reducing Urban Hazards to Birds. The good news
is there are many ways city partners can reduce
urban hazards and make their cities safer for all
birds, both migratory and resident. There are many
ways to adapt lifestyles and behaviors to make city
environments safer, friendlier places for birds to live
in and pass through by reducing the risks of bird
injury and mortality.
Actions by individuals to reduce these threats can
make a big difference to bird populations especially
when entire neighborhoods are engaged. Individual
actions that are beneficial to birds include making
windows safer by retrofitting them to reduce reflectivity Creating green space such as green roofs in urban
and transparency, keeping pet cats indoors, reducing
environments is good for birds and people. Stacy Jean
lawns and planting native species, and avoiding pesticides
and single-use plastics. Other actions that people in urban areas can take to promote bird conservation
include drinking coffee that is shade-grown and good for birds and sharing birdwatching skills and data
through community recreation, science, and monitoring programs. Working with partners and communities
to create widespread awareness of urban hazards to birds and then strategically reduce their threat and
occurrence are critical steps to achieve success.
System changes to reduce these threats through government actions and widespread community particiation
can make a big difference by addressing these threats over larger areas and for the long-term. This requires
targeted education and outreach to shift how communities envision their roles and impacts in relation to
birds and their habitats. Efforts to promote increased social responsibility can “move the needle” toward
sustainable behaviors and policies that benefit birds, other wildlife, and the environment of which we are all a
part. For example, by working collaboratively with city, county, and state governments, partners can create
lasting change through bird safe building and lighting standards, recycling programs, and limits on pesticide
c. Influencing Human Behavior. The general approach to address the human-induced hazards listed above
involves reducing threats as much as possible in the short-term with the goal of removing them totally from
the environment in the long-term.
In general, strategies should take a three-pronged approach that includes: (1) promoting knowledge,
awareness, and motivation through communications, education, and outreach with effective social marketing
messaging, tools, and vehicles designed for specific target audiences; (2) facilitating individual and community
action by reducing barriers and creating opportunities for engagement, and (3) planning for and working
toward long-term system change by building collaborations with city leadership and other organizations
through on-going communications and concrete demonstrations of urban bird conservation solutions and
success. These strategies form a positive feedback loop of human dimension-related activities that can lead to
long-term system changes. When barriers to actions are high and stakes are high, strategies that address the
human dimensions of conservation are imperative and form the foundation of a social marketing approach.
See the following article for information on stakeholder-specific messaging for urban bird conservation:
By using the steps of social marketing it is possible to motivate individuals, communities, cities and states—
even the entire country— to a new system of norms where consideration of urban bird safety and
sustainability is ingrained in all levels of behavior, and policies and regulations promote and reinforce these
new standards. Visit the sites below to learn more about the human dimensions of conservation and social
marketing for environmental sustainability. These strategies can be used to address all the bird hazards
described in the following sections.
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Motivating Action and Change by Brooke Tully:
Social Marketing : Influencing Behaviors for Good—
Quick Reference Guide: https://www.
Human Dimensions of Natural Resource
Management: https://my.usgs.gov/hd/team/usfws
d. Urban Bird Hazards to Focus On. Since there are
many hazards to birds in the urban environment
and partner capacity is limited, the UBT program
encourages partners in cities to focus on the
following five main urban birds hazards:

Building glass—responsible for an estimated
annual bird death of up to one billion
individuals in the U.S.


Lighted structures —contributes to the
above estimate by drawing in, confusing, and
exhausting birds.


Free-roaming cats—responsible for an
estimated annual bird death of 2.4 billion
birds in the U.S.


Pesticides– harm birds directly through
poisoning and indirectly by reducing their
food supply; one study estimated 2.7 million
bird deaths in Canada alone.


Hazardous trash—such as plastics and fishing
line can result in significant bird deaths as a
result of ingestion and entanglement.


Invasive species— non-native, invasive
plant species can adversely impact birds by
outcompeting native species resulting in the
loss of food and habitat provided by natives.

Led by Michigan Audubon, partners
in Lansing, MI are hosting Lights Out
events to teach local communities
about the hazards migratory birds
face from light and untreated glass
surfaces on businesses and homes
to reduce bird injury and death due
to collisions. Educational brochures,
window tape samples, and collision
tape demonstrations at events are
reaching businesses and homeowners
across the Greater Lansing area. In
addition, volunteer collision monitors
are gathering data through scientifically
sound survey protocols to understand
where the greatest threats to migratory
birds are and to generate a map of
collision risk across the Greater Lansing
area. The map will help identify high risk
structures and target buildings for highly
publicized “bird-friendly renovations”
that will be used as demonstration sites
to inspire existing building owners and
influence new construction projects.

See the sections below for more information on
each hazard.
Building Glass and Lighted Structures. A large
proportion of migrating birds affected by humanbuilt structures are songbirds, apparently because of
their propensity to migrate at night, their low flight
altitudes, and their tendency to be attracted to,
trapped, and disoriented by artificial light, making
them vulnerable to collisions. These collisions
result in the mortality of up to a billion birds each

Bird-window collision monitoring is an important activity
that community volunteers can engage in to contribute
to conservation. Michigan Audubon.

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year in North America, including many that are not
Collisions with glass result from issues of reflectivity
and transparency—birds see the sky or other natural
features reflected in the window or do not see them
at all and may only see plants that may be located on
the other side of the window due to its invisibility.
Even windows in low-rise and single-story buildings
can kill birds. Solutions entail retrofitting existing
buildings with exterior applications that enable
birds to see windows and to design and construct
new bird-safe buildings and additions that are
bird-friendly. Making sure replacement windows
are bird-friendly is also important. Working with
UBT partners in Portland, OR run a Lights Out program to save
homeowners, building owners and associations,
birds and promote energy savings and the enjoyment of dark
architect and design firms, local governments and
skies./ Portland Audubon
planners, and academic organizations is key to
success in both the short and long-term. Engaging a diverse network of audiences is key to success.
Lights Out programs encourage home and building owners and managers to turn off or dim interior and
decorative lights to reduce the total light emitted from 11pm until sunrise during fall and spring migratory
seasons. In addition to saving birds, building and home owners realize direct benefits, including decreased
energy and maintenance costs. Extinguishing or dimming exterior or decorative lighting on homes and
buildings and ensuring lighting is oriented downward, including spotlights, logos, lighted clock faces,
greenhouses, antennae lighting, are important strategies to reduce adverse lighting conditions. Eliminating the
brighter, bluer LED lights also will help reduce negative bird and other wildlife impacts.
For more information on preventing building and tower collisions and reducing light, visit the Service's bird
collision reduction toolkits visit https://www.fws.gov/library/collections/bird-collision-reduction-toolkits. For
more information on preventing other kinds of bird collisions, visit the Service’s bird collision web page.
Free-roaming Cats. Cats, including both house and feral cats, are non-native predators of birds and can cause
excessive mortality in local bird populations. Scientists estimate that cats kill 2.4 million wild birds and 12
billion small mammals each year in the U.S. Wildlife in the Western Hemisphere did not evolve in the presence
of a small, abundant predator like the domestic cat, and thus did not develop defenses against them. Cats
were introduced to North America by European immigrants only a few hundred years ago. Once caught by a
cat, few birds survive, even if they appear to have escaped. Infection from the cat’s teeth or claws or the stress
of capture usually result in death. Cats also have safer, healthier lives by staying indoors. In addition, cats
transmit many serious diseases to humans. Solutions
exist for keeping cats happy indoors, from building
“catios” to walking cats on leads and harnesses to
working with municipalities on effective solutions to
address free-roaming cats.
Hazardous Trash. Fishing line left around ponds,
creeks and rivers in urban areas can entangle birds
and result in mortality. In addition, lead fishing
tackle and lead shot for hunting, plastic objects
(e.g., straws, cups, lighters, bags, other disposable
items, six-pack rings from beverage cans) and other
debris pose debilitating hazards to birds. This is
especially true for marine birds that live in waters
20 | UBT Program Guidebook

Each year, over 1,500 volunteers join the River Rangers to clean,
beautify, and restore the Woonasquatucket River Greenway in
Providence, RI. Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council

where plastics and other trash are dumped or are transported there by rain events after careless disposal.
Birds can swallow these objects or become entangled in the plastic rings.
Partners can work to encourage recreationists and organizations to place trash in proper receptacles and enlist
local volunteers to conduct regular trash clean-ups of beaches, parks, and other popular areas for both birds
and humans. Most importantly, partners can strategically encourage people and organizations to buy
reusable and compostable items and reduce waste and, thereby, the hazardous trash that results. Removing
the driver of the hazard—and not just the symptom—is key to success and long-term change.
Pesticides. Birds can be exposed to pesticides directly through ingestion of seeds or other items that have
been treated with pesticides, or indirectly through consumption of prey that have ingested the pesticides
themselves, leading to secondary poisonings of birds through biomagnification. Birds can also be indirectly
affected through declines in insect prey populations caused by poisonings. When insect populations are
reduced, this natural food source for birds is also reduced which negatively impacts bird populations.
Pesticides have been shown to cause rapid death and debilitating effects to birds in urban areas. A 1992
study conservatively estimated that 65 million birds die per year from pesticide poisoning or effects. Annual
mortality is probably in the hundreds of millions, but deaths are very difficult to document. Most of the active
ingredients known to be toxic to birds belong to one of several classes of chemicals: organochlorines,
organophosphates, neonicotinoids, and carbamates. Methods such as integrated pest management can be
effective in significantly reducing and eventually completely eliminating pesticide use depending on the
context and requirements. Working collaboratively with city governments and other organizations to reduce
pesticide use is critical to success.
Non-Native, Invasive Plant Species. As the U.S.
population has grown, native plant and animal
communities have been adversely impacted by
the purposeful and accidental introduction of nonnative plant species. Non-native species are those
plant species that were not present at the time of
European settlement. Because of very aggressive
growth habits many non-native species become
invasive and out-compete native plants. Not only
are native plants at risk, but also the native wildlife
species that depend on them, especially insect
populations that birds depend on for foraging. This
Volunteers work to restore forest habitat in Gwynn Falls Leakin
Park in Baltimore by removing invasive species and planting
can be manifested as direct loss of plant food or loss
native trees and shrubs. Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition
of native habitat as non-native species out-compete
native plants. Native plants support greater and more diverse insect populations so restoring native
habitat is vital for restoring a healthy ecological community for birds.
Controlling invasive species is an important component of maintaining the ecological integrity of natural
areas and is very often a restoration priority for land managers and conservationists. However, invasive
species control is labor and resource intensive and requires long term effort. Addressing invasive species
needs to be done in a focused way and is generally more successful in smaller, more manageable, areas
where volunteers can help manage and monitor these species.
Evaluation and adaptive management are key to success:
Download Prism’s Evaluation Toolkit at Conservation Standards
and the U.S. Department of Interior’s Adaptive Management Technical Guide.
Please see Page 27 in Section V for a comprehensive list
of resources for reducing urban hazards to birds.
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3. Educate and Engage Urban
Communities in Caring About and
Conserving Urban Birds and Their
a. Why Engage Local Communities. Promoting
public enjoyment of nature and awareness,
knowledge, and concern for its conservation are
crucial to achieving a sustainable world.
Communities that are enthusiastic about and feel
connected to birds and their habitats, informed
about their benefits and threats, and empowered to
get involved in conservation, can make a significant
contribution to maintaining healthy bird
populations. Likewise, local individuals, families, and
communities benefit tremendously by spending
time in nature and watching birds near their homes
and in their cities. Thus, creating opportunities for
local communities to engage in bird-related
education, recreation, science, monitoring, and
conservation activities is a major goal of the UBT
program. Collaborative programs and activities that
are community-directed and led can achieve the
greatest results for both birds and people.
Community education and engagement can support
the achievement of the first two UBT program goals
—conserving urban habitat for birds and reducing
urban hazards to birds— by giving people the
chance to learn about and help plan and carry out
these activities. It also can affect the daily choices
individuals and families make in support of bird
conservation from buying bird-friendly coffee to
turning off lights and retrofitting windows to
keeping pet cats indoors. Engagement in bird
education, recreation, and community science and
stewardship opportunities also help deepen
people’s connection to nature
in their neighborhoods, which not only benefits
birds but also improves the health and well-being of
people, families, and entire communities. These
activities also promote natural resource and wildlife
conservation career awareness and job skill
development for young people by giving them
opportunities to participate in and lead bird-related
education, science, and stewardship programs.
It is critical to ensure that all people,
especially ethnically diverse, underserved, and
underrepresented communities, have access to

22 | UBT Program Guidebook

Chicago’s Bird the Preserves is an
initiative designed to connect diverse
communities to the preserves, expand
birding programs and activities, and
establish the Forest Preserves of Cook
County (FPCC) as a premiere birding
destination in the Chicago Wilderness
region. The FPCC’s nearly 70,000 acres
provide abundant opportunities to see
365 types of resident and migrant birds,
both common and unusual, that depend
on forest preserve habitat. Committed
to ensuring that all people feel welcome
at the preserves, the FPCC works
with Chicago Audubon Society and
other partners to reach out to diverse
communities to introduce them to all
that the forest preserves have to offer.
Birding can serve as a gateway activity
to a greater connection to the natural
world by providing a positive and fun
experience in nature.

Chicago’s Bird the Preserves Initiative. FPCC

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safe places to relax and recreate in natural settings. These efforts foster environmental justice and equity as
well as a community conservation ethic. All the efforts described above have the long-term and critical benefit
of fostering conservation constituencies that support healthy urban environments and sustaining wildlife
conservation into the future. Please refer to the Service’s Urban Wildlife Conservation Program’s Standards of
Excellence for guidance in developing community education and engagement programs and activities.
b. Types of Community Activities. Partners develop and carry out three main groups of community programs,
activities, and other opportunities as described below. Priority audiences include youth, ethnically diverse,
underrepresented, and underserved communities, especially those with limited access to green space and
neighborhoods where priority bird conservation efforts are targeted. The beauty of the UBT program is the
achievement of all three program goals simultaneously through coordinated planning and priority-setting to
achieve both biological goals for birds and human dimension goals for communities, especially those in need of
clean air and water and nearby places to safely spend time in nature.
Bird-related educational and recreational programs, festivals, celebrations, birdwatching trips, and birding
trails help foster a deeper understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of birds and their conservation needs.
Partners can develop and use a wide variety of creative communications, education, and outreach tools to
promote and support these activities, including articles, videos, websites, brochures, curricula, and many other
products—even geocaches! Partnering strategically with organizations with venues that draw large numbers of
people—such as nature centers, national wildlife refuges, museums, and zoos and aquaria—is an efficient and
effective approach to reach many people with messaging, education, and program engagement.
Community science and monitoring programs can support the goals of the UBT program by improving our
understanding of the status of urban bird populations, their habitat and threats, and their responses to
conservation efforts. Community science programs typically involve partnerships between the public and
professional scientists who cooperate to conduct large-scale monitoring and research. Community scientists
make up the world’s largest research teams, gathering data to better understand and conserve biological
diversity. Community science and stewardship can go hand-in-hand by involving local people and community
organizations, for example, in bird collision monitoring, annual bird counts, or pre- and post-habitat restoration
monitoring of birds, plants, and other indicators of conservation success. These programs can be vital to
adaptively learn from and improve conservation effects over time.
Community stewardship programs that engage people in hands-on conservation efforts include invasive
species removal and control, trash removal, habitat restoration efforts, lights out programs, building
retrofitting, and other conservation actions, especially those that include student job training and work
experiences. Community stewardship programs are an important part of the UBT program. Partners
collaborate with entire communities in creating opportunities to enjoy and protect birds and other wildlife
where they live, work, learn, play, and worship. Activities such as retrofitting windows, removing invasive
species, and restoring habitat with native plants create healthy spaces that benefit birds and foster a sense of
stewardship and commitment among community members which promotes sustainability.

Evaluation and adaptive management are key to success:
Download Prism’s Evaluation Toolkit at Conservation Standards
and the U.S. Department of Interior’s Adaptive Management Technical Guide.
Please see Page 30 in Section V for a comprehensive list of resources for
community education and engagement.

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V. UBT Program Information Resources
1. Resources for Conserving Urban Habitats for Birds
Native Plants for Birds and Habitat Certification
and Restoration Programs:
Follow these link for more information on using
native plants in bird and wildlife habitat restorations
and what plants to use in your area:
Audubon’s Plants for Birds and Native Plan
Database: https://www.audubon.org/plantsforbirds
National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Garden for
Wildlife: https://www.nwf.org/garden-for-wildlife
NWF’s Native Plant Challenge to Cities: https://blog.
ABQ Backyard Refuge Program: https://

Illustration from the Greater Hartford Plant Palette poster that
depicts migratory and resident birds and the native plants and
seasonal food sources they need to survive. Park Watershed

Homegrown National Park: https://homegrownnationalpark.org/
Audubon Rockies Habitat Hero Program: https://rockies.audubon.org/habitat-hero
Houston Audubon’s Bird-Friendly Community Program: www.birdfriendlyhouston.org/
Portland Audubon’s Backyard Habitat Certification Program: www.backyardhabitats.org/
St. Louis Audubon Society’s Urban Habitat Restoration Program: www.stlouisaudubon.org/conservation/
NWF’s Tree Equity Efforts: https://blog.nwf.org/2019/08/tree-equity-in-broward-county/
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (UFWS) Pacific Southwest Region’s Schoolyard Habitat Program (CA, NV and
Klamath Basin): https://www.fws.gov/media/schoolyard-habitat-project-guide
Audubon Connecticut’s Schoolyard Habitat Knowledge Network:
Plant Conservation Alliance: https://www.blm.gov/programs/natural-resources/native-plant-communities/
Audubon Connecticut’s Urban Oases site selection tool for the New Haven Harbor Watershed that integrates
bird habitat conservation and environmental equity: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.
Habitat Conservation and Restoration:
Follow these links to learn more about conserving and restoring specific habitat types to benefit birds and
other wildlife.
Bird Habitat Information:
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Conserving Habitat on Private Lands:
Cornell Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative:
USFWS Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program:
Forest Restoration:
U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS) Urban and Community
Forestry: https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/
Urban Tree Canopy Assessments: https://
American Forest Foundation’s My Land Plan:

Student Conservation Association interns planting trees to
restore habitat in Charles H. Milby park in southeast Houston.
Valeria Casas, SCA

NYC Parks and Recreation’s Guidelines for Urban Forest Restoration:
Prairie Restoration:
University of MN Extension Service: https://extension.umn.edu/planting-and-growing-guides/planting-andmaintaining-prairie-garden
Katy Prairie Conservancy: http://www.katyprairie.org/buildpocketprairies
Practical articles on Midwest urban prairie restoration: http://melissagaskill.blogspot.com/2010/07/
restoring-urban-prairie.html and
Urban Habitats article on seed source selection for prairie habitat restoration:
Wetlands Restoration:
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) site with basic information on wetland restoration: https://www.epa.
Association of State Wetlands Managers: https://www.nawm.org/
Coastal Habitat Restoration:
USFWS Coastal Program: https://www.fws.gov/coastal/about.html
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Community-based Strategic Habitat Restoration
program: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/habitat-conservation/strategic-habitat-restoration
Habitat Management Practices:
Follow these links to learn more about specific management practices that benefit birds and other wildlife:
No Mow Zones:
Bee City USA No Mow May, Low Mow Spring: https://beecityusa.org/no-mow-may/
Creating Habitat Connectivity:
American Society of Landscape Architect (ASLA), Green Infrastructure: Wildlife Habitat and Corridors: https://
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NWF’s Wildlife Corridors: https://www.nwf.org/
Article on Best Management Practices (BMPs) for
Corridor Design—Section III Practices for urban
development in corridors:
Retaining Deadwood:
NWF Turning Deadwood into Homes for Wildlife:
Providing Food and Water: Audubon, Bird
Feeders: https://www.audubon.org/news/birdfeeding-tips
USFWS Backyard Birds: https://www.fws.gov/

Chimney Swift tower construction at Hartrick Park in Lansing
MI. Michigan Audubon

NWF Garden for Wildlife: https://www.nwf.org/
Nest Boxes and Roosting Sites:
Chimney Swift Nest and Roost Site Conservation: https://www.fws.gov/story/chimney-swifts
Audubon: https://www.audubon.org/news/build-nest-box-welcome-spring-birds
Cornell Lab of Ornithology: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/attract-birds-with-roost-boxes/
Cornell Lab of Ornithology: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/will-birds-use-nest-boxes-to-roost-in-forwarmth-during-the-winter/
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Chimney Swift Towers.: https://tpwd.texas.gov/publications/
Green Roofs:
Green Roof Information and Resources: https://greenroofs.org/
Green Roof Research Alliance, NYC: https://www.greenroofsnyc.com/about-grra
Article on how urban green roofs provide habitat for migrating and breeding birds and their arthropod prey:
Article on bird response to green roofs in urban landscapes in the Midwestern USA:
Audubon article on bird friendly green roofs designs:
Green Roof Resources: https://www.greenroofs.com/projects/
EPA document on how to apply green roofs to the local level: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/
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Incentives: My Plant Connection http://myplantconnection.com/green-roofs-legislation.php
ASLA classroom curriculum: The Roof is Growing: American Society of Landscape Architects https://
www.asla. org/greenroofeducation/teacher-resources.html
Environmental Sustainability and Human Health:
Follow these links to learn more about why bird and habitat conservation is important for overall
environmental sustainability and human health and well-being and for more information on positive actions.
U.S. Forest Service’s report Urban Nature for Human Health and Well-being:
USFWS and Land Trust Alliance’s Investing in Nature: https://www.fws.gov/story/investing-nature
North American Bird Conservation Initiative brochure on benefits of bird conservation to people: http://
Science Daily Article, Watching birds is good for you:
7 Actions to Make a Bird-Friendly Planet: https://www.3billionbirds.org/
National Audubon Society’s Bird Friendly Communities program:
National Wildlife Federation’s Wildlife Management Plan Challenge to Cities: https://
The Nature Conservancy’s Outside Our Doors: https://www.nature.org/content/dam/tnc/nature/en/
Biophilic Cities: Connecting Cities and Nature: https://www.biophiliccities.org
Articles on preventing gentrification from park and green space creation:
and https://www.greenbiz.com/article/can-we-green-cities-without-causing-gentrification
Green space and crime reduction in urban areas: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6950486/

2. Resources for Reducing Urban Hazards to Birds
Why Birds Collide With Glass And Mortality Rates:
Bird–building collisions in the United States: Estimates of annual mortality and species vulnerability by Scott
Loss et al.: https://bioone.org/journals/the-condor/volume-116/issue-1/CONDOR-13-090.1/Birdbuildingcollisions-in-the-United-States--Estimates-of-annual/10.1650/CONDOR-13-090.1.full
American Bird Conservancy: https://abcbirds.org/program/glass-collisions/why-birds-hit-glass/
Cornell Lab of Ornithology:
USFWS Threats to Birds: Collisions with Glass:
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Bird Safe Building Guidelines, Standards, And Solutions:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Solutions to Preventing Bird Collisions with Buildings and Building Glass and
Toolkit: https://www.fws.gov/story/threats-birds-collisions-buildings-glass
American Bird Conservancy (ABC), Bird-friendly Building Design:
Minnesota Audubon: http://mn.audubon.org/sites/default/files/05-05-10_bird-safe-building-guidelines.pdf
Portland Audubon: https://audubonportland.org/our-work/protect/habitat-and-wildlife/urban/reducingwildlife-hazards/bird-safe-building/
New York City Audubon: https://www.nycaudubon.org/our-work/conservation/project-safe-flight/birdfriendly-building-design
Bird Friendly Chicago: https://birdfriendlychicago.org/mission-2
Lights Out Programs And Dark Skies Initiatives:
National Audubon Society’s Light Out program: https://www.audubon.org/conservation/project/lights-out#
NAS Existing City Lights Out Programs: https://www.audubon.org/conservation/existing-lights-out-programs
Fatal Light Awareness Program: https://www.flap.org
Portland Audubon’s Lights Out Program: https://
Lights Out Chicago: https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/
International Dark Skies Initiative: https://
Keeping Cats Indoors For The Safety Of Cats, Birds, And
Other Wildlife:
American Bird Conservancy’s Cats Indoors program:
https://abcbirds.org/program/cats-indoors/ and

Keeping cats indoors is one of the best ways to help cats and
birds. Petsafe

Green Stewards’ 20 Reasons to Keep Cats Indoors: http://www.globalstewards.org/cats-indoors.htm
The Humane Society’s 10 Tips to Keep Your Cat Happy Indoors: https://www.humanesociety.org/
Village of Oak Harbor’s Bird Safe/Bird Friendly Cat Roaming Program and Ordinance: http://www.

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Reducing Hazardous Trash And Its Impacts On Birds:
Audubon article on threats of plastics to shorebirds: https://
American Bird Conservancy on the threat of plastics to birds:
Article, Threat of plastic pollution to seabirds is global,
pervasive, and increasing: https://www.pnas.org/
World Migratory Bird Day 2019 theme, Protect Birds: Be the
Solution to Plastic Pollution: https://www.

Barred Owl staring down at plastic trash in the bayou.
Trey Morris

Reducing Pesticide Use And Its Impacts On Birds:
American Bird Conservancy Protect Birds from Pesticides: https://abcbirds.org/ways-to-reduce-pesticides/
Beyond Pesticides: Protecting Health and the Environment with Science, Policy and Action: How pesticides
impact birds and what communities can do to reduce pesticide use:
EPA’s Tips for Reducing Pesticide Impacts on Wildlife: https://www.epa.gov/safepestcontrol/tips-reducingpesticide-impacts-wildlife
EPA’s Pesticide Program: Protecting pollinators through regulatory, voluntary, and research programs: https://
Removing And Controlling Invasive Plants:
FWS information on invasive species, including contacts, frequently asked questions, activities, partnerships
and grants, and injurious wildlife information: http://www.fws.gov/invasives/
Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health: state species lists, how to control invasive species, and
facts on invasive species. http://www.invasive.org/species.cfm
USDA Invasive Species Information for: grants, identification, curriculum, invasive species events and
information on invasive species:
The Nature Conservancy on how to prevent and control the spread of invasive species in all 50 states that
focuses on prevention and early detection:
Pennsylvania Land Trust Alliance’s guide to assist landowners and land managers in developing and
implementing a management program for controlling invasive species: https://conservationtools.org/

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3. Resources for Community Education and
Education and Recreation Programs and Activities:
Nature of American Study: an initiative to
understand and connect Americans to nature:
Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s educational resources
for all ages:
Flying WILD, a program of the Association for Fish
and Wildlife Agencies:

Pride Week Bird Walk sponsored by NYC Audubon.
NYC Audubon

USFWS Junior Duck Stamp - Annual Junior Duck Contest information, rules, entry forms (English/Spanish),
frequently asked questions and art tour information:
American Birding Association's Young Birders Program: https://www.aba.org/aba-young-birders/
Urban Bird Sounds Project by and for students that teaches students to recognize bird sounds in the city:
The Schoolyard Birding Challenge, a monthly birdwatching contest open to students in all public, private, and
home schools; participants work together to observe, identify, and record bird species found on their school
National Audubon Society’s Audubon Adventures, environmental education curriculum for grades 3 - 5 with
science content about birds, wildlife, and their habitats:
Environment for the America’s World Migratory Bird Day, organization that provides resources for and
coordinates a global theme-based bird conservation education campaign: https://
Earth Force, a program engages young people as active citizens to improve the environment and their
communities through civic experiences in solving tough environmental problems. https://earthforce.org/
The Children & Nature Network, encourages and supports people and organizations working nationally and
internationally to reconnect children with nature, and provides a critical link between researchers
and individuals, educators and organizations dedicated to children’s health and well-being: http://www.
The Fledging Birders Institute, a non-profit environmental education organization that brings the joy and
benefits of birding to others to promote healthy development and bird conservation, and home of the
Schoolyard Birding Challenge: http://fledgingbirders.org/
Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center education programs:

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Shorebird Sister Schools Program, a science-based environmental education program to learn about and
conserve shorebirds and their habitats and connect people along flyways: https://whsrn.org/wp-content/
Environment for the America’s World Migratory Bird Day, organization that provides resources for and
coordinates a global theme-based bird conservation education campaign:
eBird Young Birder Clubs: https://ebird.org/about/resources/for-young-birders
Birding Trails by State: https://www.traillink.com/activity/birding-trails/
National Park Service Community Assistance Programs: https://www.nps.gov/getinvolved/communities.htm
Community Science and Monitoring Programs:
Cornell Lab of Ornithology coordinates projects for community scientists of all ages, including Celebrate
Urban Birds, eBird, NestWatch, Project FeederWatch, and Great Backyard Bird Count: https://www.
North American Breeding Bird Survey, an annual survey run by the U.S. Geological Survey that engages
experienced volunteer birder participation: https://www.usgs.gov/centers/pwrc/science/north-americanbreeding-bird-survey?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects
National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count, a community monitoring program that engages volunteers
to survey for birds in December/January each year: https://www.audubon.org/conservation/join-christmasbird-count
NAS’s Climate Watch: https://www.audubon.org/conservation/climate-watch
NAS’s Great Backyard Bird Count: https://www.audubon.org/conservation/about-great-backyard-bird-count
and Hummingbirds at Home: http://www.hummingbirdsathome.org/
Bird Banding Lab of the North American Bird Banding Program, jointly administered by the U.S. Department
of the Interior and the Canadian Wildlife Service with banding offices have that use the same bands, reporting
forms, and data formats. www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBL/
Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, volunteers fall and spring migration monitoring for bird collisions, bird
rescue, bird transport, public outreach, or fundraising: https://www. birdmonitors.net/Volunteer.php
The Big Sit! a birdwatching event to identify as many birds as possible in one day in a 17-foot diameter circle:
Swift Night Out - Chimney Swift monitoring and public event: https://www.wiswifts.org/swift-night-out/ and
National Geographic Society’s BioBlitz, a community science program area’s biodiversity using the iNaturalist
application: https://www.nationalgeographic.org/projects/bioblitz/
Audubon’s Hummingbirds at Home, a community monitoring program that engage people in watching and
surveying these species: https://www.audubon.org/content/hummingbirds-home

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Stewardship Program Opportunities:
National Audubon Society’s Bird Friendly
Communities, program that helps people make
their communities more sustainable by restoring
wildly habitat and reconnecting with nature:
National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Garden for
Wildlife, program that educates and empowers
people to turn their own small pieces of Earth into
thriving habitat for birds and other wildlife while
deepening their connections to the natural world:
NWF’s Native Plant Challenge to Cities: https://
Mayor's Monarch Challenge, a
program to create habitat for the Monarch butterfly
and other pollinators and educate
communities: https://www.nwf.org/

Flyer promoting opportunities for community members to
engage in prairie and  pollinator science and conservation in

Homegrown National Park: https://
Connecticut Audubon Schoolyard Habitat Network:
National Park Service Community Assistance Programs:
Student Job Training and Work Experiences: Connect with these organizations to hire students or
find volunteers to work for conservation projects in your community:
Student Conservation Association (SCA): https://www.thesca.org/about
Youth Conservation Corps: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/youthprograms/index.htm
Groundwork USA: https://groundworkusa.org/
Green Job Corps: https://greencorps.org/index.html
4-H Clubs: https://4-h.org/
Hispanic Access Foundation: https://www.hispanicaccess.org/get-involved
Greening Youth Foundation: https://gyfoundation.org/Urban-Youth-Corps
American Conservation Experience: http://www.usaconservation.org/hire-a-crew/

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VI. UWCP Program Standards of Excellence
The Standards of Excellence is the framework for
the Urban Wildlife Conservation Program. The
Standards give guidelines and objectives for urban
refuges and urban partnerships, including Urban
Bird Treaty cities, to plan for the future, to measure
success, and to take advantage of extraordinary
opportunities to build a conservation constituency
with their immediate neighbors.
The future success of conservation lies ultimately
in our ability to inspire Americans to connect with
the outdoors and nature, and to become stewards
of the environment. With over 80% of Americans
living in urban areas, spending less time outdoors,
and becoming more ethnically and racially diverse,
our challenge is to become relevant in their daily
lives. Without public awareness and support, our
conservation mission will not succeed.

Students learning the basics of birding -- a great way to help
people deepen their connection to nature. USFWS

Below is a link to find more details and objectives for the Standards of Excellence:
STANDARD 1: Know and Relate to the Community
STANDARD 2: Connect Urban People with Nature via Stepping Stones of Engagement
STANDARD 3: Build Partnerships
STANDARD 4: Be a Community Asset
STANDARD 5: Ensure Adequate Long-Term Resources
STANDARD 6: Provide Equitable Access
STANDARD 7: Ensure Visitors Feel Safe and Welcome
STANDARD 8: Model Sustainability

Paperwork Reduction Act
In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service collects information necessary to designate Urban Bird
Treaty cities or municipalities, and to respond to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974. Information requested in this
form is purely voluntary. However, submission of requested information is required in order to consider applications for designation as an Urban Bird Treaty city.
Failure to provide all requested information may be sufficient cause for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to deny the request. According to the Paperwork Reduction
Act of 1995, an agency may not conduct or sponsor and a person is not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB
control number. OMB has approved this collection of information and assigned Control No. 1018-0183.
Estimated Burden Statement
We estimate public reporting for this collection of information to average 3 hours to 80 hours per response, depending on activity, including the time for reviewing
instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. Send
comments regarding this burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to the Service
Information Collection Clearance Officer, Division of Policy, Performance, Risk Management, and Analytics, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: PRB (JAO/3W), 5275
Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803, or via email at [email protected].
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“If a child is to keep alive his/her
inborn sense of wonder, s/he needs
the companionship of at least one
adult who can share it, rediscovering
with him/her the joy, excitement,
and mystery of the world we live in.”
--Rachel Carson

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File Typeapplication/pdf
File TitleUrban Bird Treaty Program Guidebook
SubjectUrban Bird Treaty, urban bird conservation, urban habitat conservation, urban hazard reduction, community education and engageme
AuthorRoxanne E. Bogart
File Modified2024-05-14
File Created2020-04-06

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