Bird Conservation Through Education TM

August 1, 2014  

In This Issue
Race 4 Birds!
Remembering Martha
IMBD Needs Your Ideas
Thanks to our BEN Bulletin sponsors:
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The Bird Education Network (BEN) was created following the February 2007 National Gathering, hosted by the Council for Environmental Education (CEE). BEN is a CEE initiative that seeks to connect and support a community of bird education professionals.


Over 4,000 individuals representing 300 organizations receive communications and engage in professional dialogue through the BEN-run Bird Education Listserv. 


A BEN Committee has been established to provide advice and guidance for this important initiative, to advance "bird conservation through education."

Support BEN
Support the Bird Education Network and your logo will be seen by hundreds of bird education professionals!
Contact Sarah Livesay ( for more information.

Quick Links 
Race 4 Birds!

Bird outreach can be quite effective when we make birds relevant to people who may not otherwise have any such interest. A new organization is working to captivate the competitive nature of many youth in an effort to make birding more popular.


The Race 4 Birds Foundation has been created to generate excitement for birding activity among youth groups through a friendly competition. The idea is basically a "big day" challenge for children from elementary through high school in which participants work together with their team mates to find and identify as many bird species as possible with a 24 hour period in a specified geographic area ( a state, county, township, park, etc.).

The Race 4 Birds website empowers bird educators to host such an event while also taking the guess work out of putting it all together. Their site provides "guidance, forms, checklists and recommendations to help you from start to finish in sponsoring and growing your own Race 4 Birds" while also offering options that may be particularly helpful for your location or organization. Local birders can also contribute to the success of the event by serving as mentors for the youth teams.
The program was modeled after the Georgia Department of Natural Resources annual Youth Birding Competition, which wildlife biologist Tim Keyes first developed in 2001. The Race 4 Birds Foundation is sharing this successful bird outreach tool with "scout leaders, youth bird club leaders, state and local Audubon chapters, wildlife clubs, school science clubs, boys and girls clubs and many other organizations" across North America.
The Race 4 Birds website explains that "the main thing is to create an event in which young people learn, work in cooperation with friends and mentors, and enjoy being outdoors."
Remembering Martha,
Remembering the Passenger Pigeon
The first day of September will mark the centenary of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. It's rare that we know the exact date when a species goes extinct, but this is an exception. Her name was "Martha," and she died at the Cincinnati Zoo on September 1, 1914.
Photo Credit: Chester A. Reed, 1915 

Passenger Pigeons were once the most abundant birds in North America, and perhaps the world, numbering three to five billion. In fact, their flocks could darken the skies for hours, even days, at a time. Still, the species was driven to extinction in just a few decades in the late 19th century, primarily by unregulated market hunting.  The process was enabled by seemingly beneficial technological developments, including the telegraph, which gave market hunters immediate notice of flocking and nesting locations, and the railroads, which enabled boxcars of pigeon carcasses to be shipped to cities in the East.
Fortunately, the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon helped to energize the early 20th Century American conservation movement. In fact, the image shown here, by one of the preeminent field-guide artist and bird-writer of his time, Chester A. Reed, appeared in The Bird Book, only a year after Martha's death.
This cautionary tale is unique in the annals of our history, and for bird educators it provides valuable lessons in the importance of preserving our nation's magnificent wildlife and natural heritage.  Over the next few weeks, bird educators should not miss the opportunity to spread the associated lessons.
Bird educators can find excellent background materials on the species and on Martha on the website of Project Passenger Pigeon.
IMBD: Ideas for Future Themes 
The International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) annual conservation theme is an essential part of the program's success. As most bird educators are aware, the official annual theme drives the messages that the public hears about birds, bird education, and bird conservation. The theme helps point to ways in which participation can take place in creative bird-oriented activities. For 2015 and 2016, there are a number of optional suggested themes: resident species, backyard birds, habitat restoration, invasive species, citizen science projects, pollinators, and the mysteries of migration.

You can help choose the course for IMBD by making your preferences known. In any easy-to-access survey, there is even a way to leave your own additional suggestions. The official response-form for choosing a possible future theme takes about a minute to complete.
BEN: Connecting Bird Educators TM
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Newsletter maintained by: The Council for Environmental Education, Flying WILD and the BEN Committee.