Birding is young and birding is growing. As such, birders have a wonderful opportunity to define a role for themselves that will allow them to be strong partners with, contributors to, and advocates for the the National Wildlife Refuges, fully joining the ranks of traditional wildlife-based user groups like hunters and anglers, with whom we share many common interests and goals. In the end, all of us want healthy populations of wildlife to enjoy and that starts with habitat conservation.
Birds have always been an especially powerful magnet for drawing people into nature and birding is something that can be easily and instantly shared—a hundred people can look at the same bird and enjoy it equally. And because the enthusiasm and excitement of watching wild birds is quite contagious, birding provides a great means of getting more people into the tent and thus more supporters for conservation and for our refuges.
Birds also, because so many of them undertake spectacular, long distance migrations, offer a wonderful vehicle to spread the idea that conservation is a hemispheric and a global effort and that all species and habitats are connected.
The American Birding Association is working to help the members of our birding community become even better ambassadors and advocates for the conservation of birds and bird habitat, as well as for the simple joy to be found in the appreciation of nature. The National Wildlife Refuges, to birders, are as vital as stadiums are to sports fans, as libraries are to researchers, as houses of worship are to people of faith. The refuges protect the birds. As birders we must always do our part to protect the refuges.