"From research...to action. From birds...to people." So reads the cover of the BirdLife International's annual report. This statement perfectly describes the beliefs of BirdLife International, a group founded under the original name International Council for Bird Preservation in 1922 by well-known American and European bird enthusiasts for the conservation of birds and their habitats.
Under the leadership of Director and Chief Executive Dr. Michael Rands, the group works to protect endangered birds worldwide and to promote public awareness of their ecological importance. BirdLife International has grown from humble beginnings in England to a federation of over 300 member organizations representing approximately 2.2 million people in 103 countries and territories. This includes developing tropical countries where few, if any, conservation movements existed prior to BirdLife International. There is also a worldwide network of enthusiastic volunteers.
BirdLife International is a key group in international efforts to protect bird migration routes, and also works to educate the public about endangered species and their ecological importance. The BirdLife International gathers and disseminates information about birds, maintaining a computerized data bank from which it generates reports. It conducts periodic symposiums on bird-related issues, runs the World Bird Club, maintains a Conservation Fund, runs special campaigns when opportunities such as the Migratory Bird Campaign present themselves, and develops and carries out priority projects in their Conservation Program.
The BirdLife International Conservation Program has undertaken many projects on behalf of endangered birds. In 1975, BirdLife International began a captive breeding program for the pink pigeon (Nesoenas mayeri ), a native of the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, because the total population of this species had dwindled to less than 20 birds. As a result of these efforts, well over 100 of the birds were successfully raised in captivity. Later, several pairs were released at Mauritius' Botanic Gardens of Pamplemousses. BirdLife International has focused on other seriously endangered birds as well, such as the imperial parrot (Amazona imperialis ). In an attempt to protect its threatened habitat , BirdLife International has helped buy a forest reserve in Dominica, where only 60 of the parrots still survive. With the help of local citizens and educational facilities, BirdLife International hopes that their efforts to save the imperial parrot will be as successful as their work with pink pigeons.
Another important BirdLife International project is the group's work to save the red-tailed parrot (Amazona brasiliensis )of southeastern Brazil. This project involves support of an extensive plan to convert an entire nearby island into a refuge for the parrots, which exist in only a very few isolated parts of Brazil. BirdLife International has also focused on islands in other conservation projects. The council purchased Cousin Island (famous for its numerous seabirds), in an effort to save the Seychelles brush warbler (Acrocephalus sechellensis ). Native only to Cousin Island, this entire brush warbler species numbered only 30 individuals before BirdLife International bought their island. Today, there are more than 300 bush warblers, and BirdLife International continues to be actively involved in helping to breed more.
BirdLife International's publications are many and varied. Quarterly, it issues Bird Conservation International, U.S. Birdwatch, and World Birdwatch newsletter; and periodically, it issues Bustard Studies. It also publishes the well-respected series Bird Red Data Books, and such monographs as Important Bird Areas in Europe and Key Forests for Threatened Birds in Africa. BirdLife International produces numerous technical publications and study reports, and, occasionally, Conservation Red Alert pamphlets on severely threatened birds.
[Cathy M. Falk ]