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Birds are important in many ways. From an ecological point of view, they are a vital component of the web of life. For example, they keep insect numbers in check, they serve as food for other predators, and they disperse pollen and seed.

Birds also occupy an important place in our culture. they hold us enchanted as objects of beauty: watching a bird inspires us, in our minds, to spread our own wings.

And birds are important for moral reasons. As humans we are endowed with a conscience that asks us to address the needs of species other than our own. Caring about birds — small and large, drab and gorgeous – reflects a full appreciation of the of life and a love for the whole of life.

Most ecological processes cannot be altered without serious consequences. All components of an ecosystem exist for some purpose — some may be vital to the ecosystems survival, while others may be ecological equivalents. Often, however, we do not know what the true function is or how important a given component or process may be. Therefore, the prudent course is to assume that all components are important and to strive to conserve them all.

How do we do it? It’s actually quite simple: to ensure the future of migratory birds, the human planning process must provide for their needs. We must learn their requirements for suitable habitat and then maintain it for them.

This Citizen’s Guide to Migratory Bird Conservation can get you started as a partner in this endeavor. It provides tips on things you can do, from writing action-inspiring letters on bird-related issues, to habitat conservation or information-gathering projects that you can do in your own backyard or neighborhood, to involvement in regional and national land-use planning. It describes the role of state and federal agencies and other organizations in the effort to conserve birds. And it delineates methods for maintaining goal-oriented conservation groups. The methods included have all proven effective in obtaining valuable results.

As concerned citizens, we seek to save birds because we believe they are important to the ecosystems upon which we and all living things depend, because they have made our lives richer, and because we have learned to care about them.

Editors’ note: The issues and methods of bird conservation described in this Citizen’s Guide will change. We look forward to updating this publication periodically, so please send us your suggestions and comments.

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