What Matters Most

This was the 20th year of service for Tammy, and the first year as Board Chair—having served several years on the Board already—for Yvette. Over the past two decades, we have taken risks and pursued opportunities—from creating an environmental learning center at our Barr Lake headquarters, to establishing offices in multiple states, to changing our name to better reflect who we are. Even as we weather challenges, like economic downturns and government shutdowns and, now, a global pandemic, we remain steadfast and focused on our mission and purpose.

Birds made headlines in a big way in 2019 with the revelation that we have lost almost 3 billion birds since 1970. As one of the organizations that helped deliver this groundbreaking research, we also recognize our role in finding solutions to reverse those trends. Now more than ever, it’s vital that people know why birds matter. By conserving bird habitat, we protect vital water resources for working lands, wildlife, drinking and recreation. By using technology to track movement patterns of birds, we demonstrate connections across borders and cultures, and a shared natural heritage. By immersing people of all ages in nature, we change lives and impart a stewardship ethic, a sense of place and responsibility for our natural world.

Uncertain times tend to reveal what matters most—including the critical importance of the natural world to our health and the prosperity of human communities from the food we eat to the recreation we pursue. Time spent in nature provides healing and calm, whether it’s enjoying the chorus of birds during a walk, the beauty of wildflowers and wildlife, or the sound of rushing water along streams and rivers.

Despite the challenges we are facing, it’s business as usual for birds. They are migrating, resting, feeding, and starting to build nests. They bring hope that life will return to normal again. But even as we find comfort in this certainty, let us strive to learn and grow from this experience. Hopefully, we will see how important the natural world is to our daily lives and come together as a community, with unified voices, ensuring there are healthy places for people and birds across the West and beyond.

Throughout this annual report you will see stories that highlight not only accomplishments, but an organization that is creative, resilient and ensuring relevance in an ever-changing world. You—our supporters, partners and friends—are a vital part of our story. Thank you!



Bird Conservancy’s Strategic Plan outlines four major goals to help accomplish our mission: Generate and share cutting edge scientific data to advance knowledge and inform effective bird conservation Immerse children and adults in nature and foster stewardship values across generations Enhance, restore and conserve bird habitat and improve overall landscape health working in partnership with others Ensure a thriving conservancy for the 21st Century and beyond Visit our Strategic Plan page to learn more about the supporting strategies, tactics and outcomes guiding our bird protection and conservation work throughout the Rockies, Great Plains and beyond.

2019 Stories and Accomplishments

Advancing Knowledge Through Science - Science advances our knowledge about the complex relationship between birds and their habitats, from the breeding grounds on the Northern Great Plains to the wintering grounds in Mexico. As we discover the causes of declining bird populations, we share knowledge and practical tools to guide conservation on the ground.


Science to Solutions

Recent research indicates we have lost roughly 3 billion birds in North America in the last 50 years. Among the hardest hit are grassland birds, with losses estimated around 700 million.

We are in a race against time to reverse these trends. Conservation efforts must address the full annual cycle of birds’ lives. Many migratory birds rely on habitat spanning thousands of miles, without regard for human boundaries. Mexico may be home in the winter, while the Great Plains are breeding grounds in the summer. Thousands of miles of land in-between provide stopover points and temporary havens for rest and refueling.

Scientific research and monitoring reveals where the birds are, habitat needs, causes of declines, and opportunities to maximize conservation returns.

Explore the Map! Click a pin to view science and research projects delivered in 2019, and planned for 2020 and beyond.

2019 Science Highlights

Studying Conservation Investment

Much of the Great Plains, which provides critical grassland bird habitat, are privately-owned. Successful conservation of grassland birds depends on strong partnerships between private landowners and resource professionals. We partnered with landowners and the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Playa Lakes Joint Venture to study how private land conservation in the Southern Plains can recover populations of grassland birds. The research verified the importance of the Conservation Reserve Program and Prescribed Grazing to increasing populations of imperiled grassland birds by 1.8 million and protecting breeding habitat for 4.5 million grassland birds in a small region of the Southern Plains.

On the Wing with Black Swifts

Populations of aerial insectivores like the Black Swift are declining rapidly. Studying the Black Swift brings special challenges because of their elusive nature and the rugged and remote habitat they prefer. In 2019, we continued our forays into such wild places to advance efforts to learn more about their foraging behavior and daily lives. Biologists attached small wing activity devices called accelerometers and GPS units to a birds’ leg or back. Accelerometers measure body acceleration in one, two or three axis and GPS units collect precise altitude and location information. These devices are expanding the frontiers of movement ecology and revealing new information about Black Swifts, a vital piece of the puzzle to guide their conservation.  

Click here to view an animated map of a Black Swift foraging flight during the breeding season.

A Closer Look at Pipits

Sprague’s Pipits are an enigma. They inhabit far-flung prairies, their populations are steeply declining, and we know almost nothing about their nonbreeding ecology. To study them is a practice in patience, light-footedness, and “intelligent failure”. Did we mention that they are cute? Cuteness aside, Bird Conservancy and partners have advanced our understanding of this species by radio tagging and tracking wintering individuals. A new article in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology revealed that within the Chihuahuan Desert grasslands of Northern Mexico, pipits preferred areas with more bare ground. Sprague’s Pipits share this landscape with species that prefer dense grass, so actions that embrace structural diversity in grasslands is a win for all. 


The Decline of North America’s Avifauna

2019’s report in Science that 3 billion birds have disappeared from North America confirmed what many long suspected: birds are declining. The research captured our attention in a way that hasn’t happened in decades and ranks among the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked. Avian Conservation Scientist, Arvind Panjabi, helped compile and curate the data on bird population sizes and trends for the report from the Avian Conservation Assessment Database, a key resource he manages at Bird Conservancy of the Rockies. Grassland birds represent 25% of those lost, bringing renewed urgency and attention to our efforts, from our bi-national stewardship work, to our conservation science, to public education and our strategic focus on grasslands policy across all sectors.

“To conduct our continental analysis of bird population change, the first task was to compile the most accurate estimates of population size and trends for as many species as possible—for this we turned to Partners in Flight’s Avian Conservation Assessment Database, housed and managed at Bird Conservancy of the Rockies. In addition, because the loss of grassland birds was such a prominent component our 3-billion-birds-lost result, co-author Arvind Panjabi’s unique perspective on global trends and threats to grasslands was a key contribution to the publication.”

Ken Rosenberg
Applied Conservation Scientist
Cornell Lab of Ornithology/American Bird Conservancy

2019 Education Highlights

IMMERSE PEOPLE IN NATURE - Nature has the power to excite, inspire and heal. Year-round Bird Camps, school field trips, nature clubs, BioBlitzes and family programs get us outside to connect with the natural world. Partnerships and collaborations enhance those experiences and expand our reach. Together, we’re nurturing the minds and spirits of people of all ages, inspiring and fostering future scientists and bird conservation champions.


A Year in Pictures

We know that full immersion of youth in nature creates life-changing experiences with lasting impacts.

Year-round Bird Camps, field trips for schools, nature clubs, BioBlitzes, family programs and special events are getting kids outside and connecting with the natural world. Our partnerships and collaborations with others enhance those experiences and expand our reach.

Together, we are nurturing the minds and spirits of our youth, inspiring and helping to create future scientists, conservationists and bird lovers.

2019 Education Highlights

Birds in the Hand

Our bird banding stations allow us to monitor trends in bird migration activity over time and also serve as an outdoor classroom for visiting students and community members. In 2019, we were excited to establish a new banding station at Roger’s Grove Park in Longmont, CO. This station was open two days per week during peak migration in spring and fall, and hosted over 200 visitors. Visitors to the station learned about the obstacles that migratory birds must overcome in their travels while seeing these same birds up close and personal. Strategically-placed bird banding stations like this enable us to monitor migratory birds in urban and suburban environments while also providing a unique educational experience for visitors. 

Habitat Restoration Rock Stars

The Nature Center at Butler Corner has been in Kathie Butler’s family for over 90 years. Today, it’s a place where visitors go to experience all that nature has to offer. Consisting of mountain meadow, gamble oak, and Ponderosa pine habitats, the land historically held snowmelt moisture throughout the year. Lately, however, water rushes off the land via several eroding gullies. Private lands wildlife biologist, Kristina Kline, created a plan using low-tech rock structures to slow the water and spread it across the meadows. Visiting 5th graders got to learn about habitat restoration, then get hands-on experience building the rock structures. It was a win-win-win for the Nature Center property, birds and wildlife, and aspiring conservationists of tomorrow.

Making Meaningful Change

2019 concluded our first year of Environmental Service Learning projects in western Nebraska. Four classrooms were selected to deliver an original, environment focused project in their school or community. Projects included reducing food waste by composting with worms, creating an outdoor classroom with pollinator plants, implementing a town recycling program, and increasing biodiversity at a recreation site. The experiences included celebrations in the form of field trips and community events. The initiative continues in 2020 with participating classrooms building bat houses, creating a pollinator habitat, and learning about sustainable gardening practices, composting and water conservation through the use of rain barrels.


Bird Conservancy of the Rockies has been offering overnight summer camps since 1992. Our camps have evolved and grown from providing overnight camps, to day camps, to now offering a range of year-round camp programs for ages 4-17. In 2019, we added Birds of Winter Camp and our Spring Migration Camp to give campers the chance to continue their “bird education” while school is out. One of the many benefits of having year-round camps is that we can engage and connect with our frequent/repeat campers throughout the year. Meanwhile, we continue to build beneficial partnerships with allied organizations in our community, enabling us to broaden our reach and create truly special educational programs. We understand that it is vitally important to not only educate our youth—but to also engage their families as well—so that their passion for birds and the outdoors continues at home and is nurtured throughout their daily lives.

“My daughter learned about birds, nature, and working as a team. It was the best.”

“My kids have been changed by this experience! ”

“My son adores the people, the experience, and the ability to learn and grow at bird camps ”

– Parents of Bird Campers

DELIVERING CONSERVATION THROUGH COLLABORATION - Our collaborative conservation network extends from Montana to Mexico, fueled by the expertise of strategically-placed Private Lands Wildlife Biologists.Through voluntary programs, we engage landowners and managers with tools, resources and methods that aim to enhance the health and productivity of working lands for the benefit of rural communities and wildlife.

& Community

Private working farms and ranches comprise 70% of the western landscape, home to many of our imperiled grassland birds. That’s why, for more than 20 years, our organization has operated a private lands program working alongside landowners and managers to raise awareness for bird conservation needs and enhance habitat at the local level.

Our collaborative conservation landscape extends from Montana to Mexico, fueled by the expertise of a network of strategically-placed Private Lands Wildlife Biologists. We start conservation with a conversation, engaging people with tools and resources to enhance the health and productivity of working lands for the benefit of wildlife and rural communities.

New Private Lands Wildlife Biologists stationed in Colorado and New Mexico are expanding our ability to focus on grassland ecosystems.

Explore the Map!  Click a pin to view land stewardship project highlights from 2019.

2019 Stewardship Highlights

Big Gains at Little Bijou

Is it possible to benefit people, birds and land at the same time? The Little Bijou Ranch in Morgan County Colorado has done just that. David Koffler and his partners purchased the ranch with the intention of using it for hunting and other recreational purposes. With a great respect for the animals that he harvests David also wanted to provide them with the highest quality habitat possible. Over the last four years David has built a relationship with Bird Conservancy’s Private Lands Wildlife Biologist, Kelsea Holloway, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service who have provided him with the tools and knowledge needed to improve his land for birds and other wildlife. Through grazing, weed control and wetland management the diversity continues to grow.

Plover Pride

The community of Karval kicked off their 13th Annual Mountain Plover Festival in April with exclusive private land tours, hearty homecooked meals, and small-town hospitality. Nature enthusiasts traveled from afar for a rare opportunity to see Mountain Plovers on the prairies of eastern Colorado. Private Lands Wildlife Biologist Ryan Parker and landowners Russell and John Davis took it one step further by scouting the landscape to locate this elusive bird’s nest. Attendees relished in the opportunity to see a plover sitting on eggs while cattle grazed nearby in the same pasture. The importance of pairing agriculture with wildlife conservation was a reoccurring theme throughout the festival, where travelers were welcomed into the homes of local ranchers. You can see the festival’s official 2019 bird list here.

A Winning Strategy

A key to successful landscape-level bird conservation is engaging with private landowners and communities. In western South Dakota, rural communities come together for a broader approach to private lands conservation, through outreach and engagement. In 2019 the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) local office in Sturgis, SD was presented an award for excellence in outreach from the South Dakota NRCS state office. In part, because they value the network of agencies and organizations in the region working together to share a broader message. Outreach is important, especially to demonstrate the effectiveness of partnerships steering conservation. Private Lands Wildlife Biologist Jennifer Lutze, based in this office, works with many partners to keep birds in the conservation conversation.

Dan Lorenz and Adrienne Larrew of Corner Post Meats. Photo: Evan Barrientos/Audubon Rockies


Corner Post Meats

Ranch-to-Table embodied in modern land stewardship ethics

Dan Lorenz and Adrienne Larrew launched Corner Post Meats in 2014. Their enterprise is both a partnership of conservation ranching with Audubon Rockies and a manifestation of their progressive, innovate ideas about people’s relationship with the land. Dan and Adrienne believe food should be a connecting point to bring people together to build community. As Dan explains it, they strive to “create positive impacts – from birds, to soil microbes, to really good meat.” Headquartered at Kiowa Creek Ranch near Colorado Springs, the property is owned by the National Audubon Society.  As a certified Bird Friendly Beef producer, the ranch’s innovative business and landscape management approaches highlight the value of working lands for wildlife habitat and landscape health. Dan and Adrienne share their knowledge with others, serving as an example of conservation ranching and passionately engaging with the ranching community to further the value of maintaining working lands which actively work to support wildlife. Bird Conservancy of the Rockies has worked with Dan and Adrienne since 2018 as part of our land stewardship program to implement improvements to forest land on their property.

“It gives me a sense of relief knowing that ranchers like Dan and Adrienne are moving ahead full-steam. By providing examples of conservation ranching, and passionately engaging with the ranching community, they are highlighting the value of working lands in supporting wildlife, local economies and sustainability.”

– Ty Woodward, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist



Our vision for success

For more than 30 years, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies has been a leader in bird conservation across the West. Our success is in no small part due to to strong partnerships, our collaborative approach and the generosity of people just like you. Ensuring a strong organization for the future is a vital component of our strategic plan, which emphasizes sustainable and adaptive operations, investing in our people and infrastructure, and diversifying our funding streams. We ended the year nearly neutral, with a strategic investment in data analyses to advance the application of our scientific monitoring data and help guide and inform our work and that of our partners. Your gifts help ensure Bird Conservancy’s future and increase our organization’s resilience during challenging times. Thank you for being a part of our story – past, present and future!

The financial information provided here is a 2019 summary.
Detailed annual financial statements are available for download here.




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