Migratory Bird Program
Conserving the Nature of America

Council for the Conservation of Migratory Birds AWARD

Nominations for the 2014 Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award

The Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award annually recognizes a single project or action conducted by or in partnership with a Federal agency that meets the intent and spirit of Executive Order 13186 by focusing on migratory bird conservation. Actions may involve reducing existing or potential adverse impacts to migratory birds and their habitats, restoring or enhancing migratory bird habitat, and incorporating conservation of migratory birds and their habitat into agency plans, guidance, or other activities. The action should demonstrate leadership in inspiring others to further migratory bird conservation. This could include developing and implementing best-management practices, a policy action, or research.

Managing Raptor-Human Conflicts to Promote Safety and
Migratory Bird Conservation USDA-APHIS

Studying Migratory Birds Domestic and Abroad Department of Energy

Denali National Park and Preserve Golden Eagle Project
National Park Service

Managing Raptor-Human Conflicts to Promote Safety and
Migratory Bird Conservation USDA-APHIS

Effective, publically accepted methods of managing human-raptor conflict situations are needed.  USDA-APHIS conducted a national program with the goal of reducing human-wildlife conflicts associated with raptors (i.e., birds of prey), including many species of conservation concern [e.g., Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus), Ferruginous Hawks (Buteo regalis)] during 2004−2013.  This large, complex program was comprised of efforts conducted across the United States and included both operational activities that were conducted by WS state programs as well as a research component that was implemented by USDA-APHIS’s National Wildlife Research Center. 

Through this program, operations and research personnel from USDA-APHIS effectively managed a diversity of human-raptor conflict situations, the vast majority of which were resolved using non-lethal methods (i.e., live-trapping and relocation of problematic raptors).  During 2004−2013, over 13,700 individual raptors (representing at least 32 different species) were successfully live-trapped and relocated away from the environment where the conflict was occurring and the birds and other resources were at risk (such as an airport).  Notably, approximately 5% (more than 650 individual birds) that were managed during these situations were species of concern, such as Short-eared Owls (Asio flammeus), Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), and Mississippi Kites (Ictinia mississippiensis). 

Most raptor-human conflict management issues addressed by the agency involved a high profile human health and safety issue − collisions between birds and aircraft.  Bird-aircraft collisions are both costly and deadly; therefore, this agency has undertaken significant efforts, within the United States and at military bases in foreign nations, to reduce the frequency and severity of bird-aircraft collisions involving raptors.  These birds were removed from dangerous environments (i.e., airports and military airfields) when they are at risk for collisions with aircraft (thus resulting in bird mortality) and relocated to areas without this risk of mortality. 

Research was an essential and invaluable component of this effort that contributed to the conservation of migratory birds.  Numerous research projects were conducted throughout the United States using traditional bird-banding and cutting-edge satellite telemetry technologies that provided: (1) critical information needed (e.g., relocation distance) to increase the efficacy of the raptor relocation management effects used to resolve conflict situations, (2) information used to identify spatial and temporal patterns in the risk to aviation safety posed by various raptors [i.e., Bald Eagles, Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus), Red-Tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis)] using airport environments, (3) quantifying the risk that migrating raptors pose to military training flights, and (4) new and important ecological information on the breeding, migration, and wintering ecology of various raptors.  Although the findings from this research have been used predominantly by agencies and entities involved in reducing raptor-aircraft collisions associated with civil airports, military airfields, and military airspace training areas, the critical information and innovative methodologies provided by this research is being used in the evaluation and management of other human-raptor conflict situations (e.g., wind energy facility development).

Studying Migratory Birds Domestic and Abroad Department of Energy.

The Department of Energy (DOE)/National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Pantex Plant and co-applicant initiated, and continue to build, a migratory bird program with a strong focus on research through partnerships.  Program accomplishments represent leadership in contributing to migratory bird conservation and outreach, elevating them to a level beyond agency mandates.  These accomplishments demonstrate initiative and build credibility for environmental programs at the Pantex Plant.  The research projects are the result of program initiatives and are in the forefront of regional conservation efforts. 

Migratory bird research initiated by Pantex has included banding and tracking work on Purple Martins (Progne subis subis), the study of the year-round ecology of Swainson’s Hawks (Buteo swainsoni), the effects of wind turbines on migratory birds, and studies on Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia hypugaea) and other birds that utilize prairie dog colonies.  A comprehensive literature review of the impacts of wind energy on wildlife has been developed and shared with Federal and state natural resource agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Region 2 Office.
The scale of Pantex’s projects varies by project.  Most projects are regional (Southern Great Plains) but geolocator technologies (deployed on Purple Martins) and Platform Transmitter Terminal (PTT)/satellite technologies (deployed on Swainson’s Hawks) extend the research through Central and South America, and are global in scale.  The Purple Martin geolocator data will be pooled with data from other sites across eastern North America.  Research on the effects of wind energy on wildlife can have global implications.

The projects involve many partners including Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services Pantex, LLC; Texas Tech University, Natural Resources/Biological Sciences; USGS Texas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit/Texas Tech; West Texas A&M University, Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences; private landowners; banding site cooperators; York University; the Purple Martin Conservation Association; and volunteers.

The Pantex Plant’s migratory bird program and its collaborators make it a priority to provide research summaries and results to NNSA and DOE, the public, and the outside wildlife community.  Data are incorporated into site and agency plans, and thus address the original research needs.

To date, research information has contributed to five Master of Science degree theses, and has been published in two peer-reviewed technical journals, four semi-technical journals, and a popular article is currently in press.  Presentations have been made at 33 professional meetings across the United States and are also provided locally to organizations such as church, civic, and study groups, as well as schools and the general public.  The Pantex Plant’s work is featured regularly in the local media and is often picked up and carried in national outlets and the social media.  The co-applicant’s past and current “outside” affiliations, and the abundant additional publications and presentations that relate to, and promote, migratory birds, fit well within the spirit of Executive Order 13186.

Denali National Park and Preserve Golden Eagle Project National Park Service

The National Park Service (NPS) is mandated to preserve the natural resources under its jurisdiction, which necessitates that we work closely with our federal, state, local, tribal, and private partners. The Denali National Park and Preserve (Denali) Golden Eagle Project is an outstanding example of how the NPS collaborates with many federal, state and non-governmental agencies to use science to make informed decisions about the management of migratory birds within and beyond park boundaries. It is also a unique example of how the NPS uses results of existing long-term monitoring programs to address critical, current resource issues within a structured-decision making framework.  Denali contains one of the largest nesting populations of Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) in North America.  This is a migratory population and the range of the eagles that nest in Denali spans from southwest Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) at Denali National Park and PreserveCanada to central Mexico. The Denali Golden Eagle Project has a long history of strong collaboration with scientists from several federal agencies (FWS, USGS) and universities. This collaborative approach has resulted in strong science-based management of this species in Denali and is increasing efforts of conserving habitat and resources for this species beyond Denali’s borders. Long-term studies conducted in collaboration with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), US Geological Survey (USGS), University of Alaska-Fairbanks (UAF), and Oregon State University (OSU) in Denali have provided new and essential information on the ecology of this species including breeding ecology, food habits, survival and year round movements. Results have also led to development of effective management plans on the nesting grounds in Denali and provided some of the only information regarding a large migratory population of this species in northwestern North America. The multiple collaborative actions also resulted in many peer reviewed publications. The new collaborative work continues the strong NPS cooperation with FWS, UAF, USGS and establishes new collaborations with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and West Virginia University to study the factors that influence survival of Denali’s Golden Eagles and further enhances ongoing conservation efforts across this species’ range.


The Department of Defense 2013 recipient of the Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award Migratory Linkages of Burrowing Owls on Department of Defense Installations and Adjacent Lands project

Burrowing Owl on Kirtland AFB.

Burrowing Owl on Kirtland AFB.
Photo by Envirological Services

Bureau of Land Management Receives 2012 Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award Restore New Mexico

Council Award

Mike J Johnson presents Presidential Award to Mike Pool (Deputy Director BLM) photo credit Raymond King

2011 Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award presented to Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement for their leadership in forming the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative.

Council Award


Last updated: March 24, 2014