Dear Audubon Member,

Photo by Monte Costa

It's hard to protect habitat for birds. They don't stay in one place very long, and most migrate thousands of miles every year, primarily in search of food in changing seasons. The major corridors of north-south migration in North America are called flyways. The Pacific Flyway is one of the busiest, extending from Mexico north to Alaska.

Millions of birds, including waterfowl, shorebirds, warblers, and raptors, move up or down the Pacific Flyway. California's Central Valley alone provides wintering habitat for upwards of 10 million waterfowl and waterbirds.

Along the way these birds need safe habitat with enough food and water to sustain them until they reach the next stop on their journey. But this chain of life for birds is only as strong as its weakest link. How can we safeguard it?

In two ways: protecting "big" places and protecting "smaller" places. The big places are where massive concentrations of birds gather, usually for extended periods. They include the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska; Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay in Washington; the Klamath Basin in Oregon; and California's Central Valley, San Francisco Bay, and Salton Sea.

At Audubon, we gather scientific information, educate the public, acquire land, and advocate for sound public policy. For example, in San Francisco Bay, Audubon recently played a leading role with other organizations to help purchase 16,500 acres of critical wetlands known as the Cargill Salt Ponds. Washington Audubon published a State of the Birds report, providing the scientific foundation for protecting the most important places in the state's part of the flyway. In Alaska, we continue to fight to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the most sensitive parts of the National Petroleum Reserve. Wherever we've enjoyed successes, it's because Audubon members and citizen scientists have become involved in everything from bird-monitoring projects to writing elected officials.

The "smaller" places, mostly on private lands—ranches, farms, backyards—may be less spectacular, but they can be just as important. Volunteer action is vital. Does a backyard have native plants, birdfeeders, and other food sources? Are there insects for the birds (or have they been killed by pesticides)? Are cats kept indoors? When one backyard is combined with thousands of others, it can make the difference between life and death. We call this part of our strategy Audubon At Home.

The future of the Pacific Flyway and other essential bird habitat depends on one thing: you. We need your help to keep this chain of life unbroken. To learn more about how birds across the country are faring, see this issue's special pullout section, "State of the Birds USA 2004." To learn more about helping birds in your backyard, go to www.audubon.org/bird/at_home/.


is to conserve and restore
natural ecosystems, focusing
on birds, other wildlife, and
their habitats for the
benefit of humanity and the
earth's biological diversity

John Flicker
National Audubon Society

© 2004 National Audubon Society

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