Bird conservation partnerships

Canadians must work cooperatively to achieve conservation success. Only 22% of Canadian bird species spend the whole year in Canada; we share “our” birds with many other countries. Environment and Climate Change Canada's Canadian Wildlife Service participates in many partnerships among individuals, organizations, corporations and governments, both at home and abroad. Learn more about some these partnerships in the sections below.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative

The North American Bird Conservation Initiative's (NABCI) goal is to improve the conservation of birds and their habitats in North America. Environment and Climate Change Canada has played a primary role in its development; it is a coordinated effort among Canada, the United States and Mexico.

Priority-setting and planning within ecoregion-based Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs) provide a biologically-based framework for implementing bird conservation. Important issues identified through this process are addressed through partnerships in each BCR.

National coordination of this effort in Canada occurs through the NABCI Canada Council, chaired by the Director General of Environment and Climate Change Canada's Canadian Wildlife Service. Council members include representatives from provincial governments, non-government organizations, industry associations, and others interested in supporting bird conservation in Canada.


By working cooperatively for their conservation, Canada, the United States and Mexico hope to protect shared resources like the Indigo Bunting.

Implementation of NABCI in Canada:

  • increases the effectiveness of existing and new initiatives,
  • enhances coordination among new and traditional conservation partners,
  • fosters greater cooperation among the nations and peoples of the continent, and
  • builds on such existing structures as joint ventures, and stimulate new initiatives and mechanisms as appropriate.

NABCI's initial phase focused on development and planning to lay a strong foundation for success. Subsequent phases will work to integrate bird conservation into strategic conservation initiatives that will provide benefits to many other wildlife species.

Landbird Conservation - Partners in Flight

Landbirds include some of the most familiar birds in Canada (hawks, eagles, and falcons; partridges, grouse, and quail; pigeons and doves; cuckoos; owls; nightjars; swifts and hummingbirds; kingfishers; woodpeckers; and songbirds or passerines). However, populations of many of the approximately 220 Canadian species of birds in this group have shown long-term declines over the last 40 years. Loss and degradation of wildlife habitat are believed to be the primary causes of these declines.

Environment and Climate Change Canada is working with Partners in Flight and the North American Bird Conservation Initiative to identify and address the issues facing this group of birds.

Logo: Partners in Flight

The mission of Partners in Flight is expressed through three related concepts:

  • helping species at risk,
  • keeping common birds common,
  • voluntary partnerships for birds, habitat, and people.

Building on the 2004 North American Landbird Conservation Plan, in 2010 Partners in Flight produced Saving Our Shared Birds: The Partners in Flight Tri-National Vision for Landbird Conservation. It presents the conservation needs of nearly 900 landbird species in Canada, the United States and Mexico.

As the landbird component of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, Partners in Flight encourages regional efforts to use Bird Conservation Regions as the geographic framework for conservation plans. Where possible, implementation of regional landbird conservation will be integrated with efforts to conserve other types of birds.

Waterfowl Issues and the North American Waterfowl Management Plan

Environment and Climate Change Canada partners internationally, as well as with provinces, territories and NGOs, to meet the conservation goals outlined in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP). The NAWMP is an international partnership that conserves and protects wetland and upland habitats, and associated waterfowl populations by connecting people with nature.

There are 35 species of ducks, geese and swans that spend at least part of each year in Canada. Waterfowl differ from most other bird populations in that they are hunted. As such, waterfowl conservation includes the need for both monitoring and regulation, and considerable effort is dedicated to ensuring that hunting is managed at a sustainable level.

Environment and Climate Change Canada's Canadian Wildlife Service has been a partner for many years in programs to monitor the status of waterfowl species. The present status of many waterfowl species is very good; however, some species of sea ducks continue to experience long-term declines. In contrast, Snow Geese have become so abundant that they may threaten other wildlife through their effects on habitat. Canada Geese are involved in conflicts with people, particularly when they are present in urban areas.

Hunting regulations for migratory game birds are reviewed every two years. Environment and Climate Change Canada has developed a national process to consult on the proposed changes to the hunting regulations, which has been in place since 1988. As part of this consultation process, Environment and Climate Change Canada produces three Migratory Birds Regulatory Reports.

For more information on waterfowl conservation in Canada, see:

Shorebird Conservation and Programs

Photo of Surfbird
Photo: © Kevin Hannah, 2015

There are approximately 47 species of shorebirds (plovers, killdeer, sandpipers, oystercatchers, yellowlegs, knots, godwits, curlews, woodcock and snipe) that occur regularly in Canada. Most of these nest in Canada in habitats that include the arctic tundra, the boreal forest, beaches, agricultural fields and urban areas. Canada has a unique responsibility with respect to shorebirds as more than half of the breeding range for many species occurs in Canada.

Canadian shorebird populations have declined considerably during the last 40 years. Most species migrate very long distances. For example, some arctic-nesting species overwinter in Tierra del Fuego, at the southern tip of South America. Reasons for population declines include the loss and alteration of wetlands, estuaries, deltas and mudflats at all stages of their journey. Ongoing international cooperation is vital to identify and conserve the key sites and address threats faced by shorebirds throughout all phases of their life cycle.

Some conservation initiatives that are being undertaken for Canadian shorebirds include:

  • Arctic Migratory Bird Initiative Underway
  • Participation in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) program. WHSRN delivers site-based conservation for shorebirds at 88 sites in 13 countries throughout the Americas; actions at most sites benefit shorebirds that breed in Canada. Canada has seven WHSRN sites located in New Brunswick, Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. In July 2012, the Bay of Fundy site, the first WHSRN site in Canada, celebrated 25 years as part of the network. In March 2013, Canada added its newest site, the Tofino Wah-nah-jus Hilth-hoo-is Mudflats, to the WHSRN program.
  • Supporting local partners in order to ensure habitat conservation in the Bay of Panama (Panama), an important stopover site for Western Sandpipers and at Asuncion Bay (Paraguay), an important wintering site for Buff-breasted Sandpiper.
  • Development and delivery of beneficial management practices (BMPs) in grassland areas of South America, which are important overwintering sites for many Canadian shorebirds including Baird's Sandpiper, Hudsonian Godwit, Pectoral Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Wilson's Phalarope, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs and landbirds such as Bobolink.
  • Evaluating the scope and impact of hunting to shorebird populations.

As the shorebird component of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, the use of the Bird Conservation Regions geographic framework is encouraged. Where possible, implementation of regional shorebird conservation will be integrated with efforts to conserve other species of birds.

The following documents have been developed to identify and address issues related to shorebird conservation in Canada: Canadian Shorebird Conservation Plan, Northern Shorebird Conservation Strategy, Pacific and Yukon Shorebird Conservation Plan, the Prairie Canada Shorebird Conservation Plan, Ontario Shorebird Conservation Plan, Quebec Shorebird Conservation Plan, and Atlantic Canada Shorebird Conservation Plan.

International initiatives include: the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan, the Atlantic Flyway Shorebird Business Strategy (PDF: 1,402 kb; 16 pages), the Western Atlantic Shorebird Association, the U.S.F.W.S. Shorebird Sister Schools Program, the Pan American Shorebird Program.

Waterbird Conservation and Programs

Canada is home to a vast diversity of waterbirds (puffins, gannets, murres, razorbills, guillemots, albatrosses, shearwaters, petrels, kittiwakes, fulmars, gulls, terns, herons, rails, coots, bitterns, cranes, loons and grebes) that use the oceans, inland waters and wetland habitats. Some of the conservation issues for waterbirds include habitat loss and degradation, particularly for wetlands, islands and coastal habitat, fisheries by-catch, marine oil pollution and litter, and introduced predators on nesting colonies. Initiatives undertaken to address these issues include:

As the waterbird component of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, the use of the Bird Conservation Regions geographic framework is encouraged. Where possible, implementation of regional waterbird conservation will be integrated with efforts to conserve other species of birds.

Contact Us

Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment and Climate Change Canada
351 Blvd. St. Joseph, 14th floor
Gatineau Quebec
K1A 0H3

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