Newsroom Midwest Region

Detroit becomes 29th urban bird treaty city

May 23, 2017

Wood duck in flight along the Detroit River near Alexander Park. Photo courtesy of Mark Nenadov/Creative Commons.
Wood duck in flight along the Detroit River near Alexander Park. Photo courtesy of Mark Nenadov/Creative Commons.

Regional Director Tom Melius joined partners in the Detroit Nature Network May 22 for a signing that designates Detroit an Urban Bird Treaty City. The ceremony included representatives from the City of Detroit Office of Sustainability, Detroit Audubon, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Detroit Zoological Society and the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.

The event also celebrated International Migratory Bird Day with the fitting theme for Detroit this year of celebrating the importance of stopover sites for migrating birds.

Regional Director Melius noted, “Detroit may be best known by some for automobiles, music, and professional sports, but how many knew Detroit is also an internationally significant place for migratory birds? The Detroit River is ideally situated at the intersection of the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways resulting in more than 350 species of birds using this corridor during migration.”

He added that more than 300,000 diving ducks of various species commonly use the lower Detroit River as stopover habitat during migration and the Detroit River has been identified as one of the three best places to watch raptor migrations in the U.S. with 23 species of raptors migrating across the river corridor.

Detroit River Refuge Manager, John Hartig said, “The Urban Bird Treaty we signed today will further encourage the citizens of metro Detroit to connect to nature through birding opportunities and conservation. It’s a win for both people and wildlife.”

Launched in 1999, the Urban Bird Treaty program is a collaborative effort among federal, state and municipal agencies, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions to create bird-friendly environments and provide citizens, especially youth, with opportunities to connect with nature through birding and conservation. The program emphasizes habitat conservation through invasive species control, native plant restoration, bird-safe building programs, bird and habitat monitoring and education programs.

Metro Detroit becomes the 29th Urban Bird Treaty city in the United States and sixth in the Midwest Region, including: Minneapolis, St. Paul, Chicago, Indianapolis and St. Louis.

“I am especially proud to honor Detroit since it is located along the the U.S.-Canadian border which furthers our cooperation to conserve shared resources that cross international boundaries,” Melius said. “In fact, this is a great way to kick off the next 100 years of migratory bird conservation after celebrating the Centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty last year. Congratulations to all the partners who have worked so hard for urban bird conservation here. We look forward to continuing our work with you for the benefit of birds and the people of Detroit.”

The Metro Detroit Nature Network is a voluntary partnership of conservation and outdoor recreational organizations that is working to bring conservation to cities and make nature part of everyday urban life. The vision of the Network is that all people in the metropolitan Detroit region have access to and actively steward nature and promote ecosystem sustainability. More than 20 partners have already signed the partnership agreement, including Michigan Department of Natural Resources, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, Detroit Zoological Society, Detroit Audubon Society, Oakland County Parks, University of Michigan Dearborn, The Nature Conservancy, Friends of the Detroit River, International Wildlife Alliance, Six Rivers Land Conservancy, Michigan Recreation and Park Association, Greening of Detroit, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, Macomb County Parks, and others.