In the 2012 President's Budget Request, the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) is terminated. As a result, all resources, databases, tools, and applications within this web site will be removed on January 15, 2012. For more information, please refer to the NBII Program Termination page.
Birds have figured prominently in human culture and societies since prehistoric times and have served as a source of inspiration for creative endeavors. Our enduring fascination with birds extends to different aspects of culture and society, as the following examples show:
Birds are vertebrates of the taxonomic class Aves. Thought of as "warm-blooded," birds are endotherms, meaning they are able to regulate their own body temperature independently of the temperature of their surroundings. Bird characteristics include feathers, wings, and a reproduction strategy of laying and incubating eggs. A wide variety of bird species inhabit the Southwest region, including many migratory birds that require conservation efforts.
Focal Birds The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Migratory Bird Program's Focal Species Strategy identifies migratory bird species in need of focused conservation action. Learn more about Focal Bird Species in the Southwest Region.
Ecological Role of Birds
Birds provide important ecological services that contribute to maintaining ecosystem processes and some of the necessary conditions on which humans and other organisms depend. These services range from food provisioning to modification of habitats and resource flows in biological communities. Bird declines can have negative impacts on ecosystems, and their sensitivity to environmental change often lends them as useful indicators of environmental quality.
The NBII Bird Conservation Node provides electronic access to North American bird population and habitat data maintained by a broad coalition of federal, state, and non-governmental partners. These data resources are vital to the planning and evaluation of science-based bird conservation strategies. Assembling these resources is an important step toward coordination of bird conservation.
Economic Value of Wild Birds
Estimates on how much birds contribute to our economy reflect only a fraction of their value, because the monetary value of ecological and socio-cultural services birds provide has not been quantified. Wild birds have been part of trading and economic activity throughout history. In the United States, severe bird population declines in the early 1900s due to commercial activities led to passage of legislation restricting commercial trade of birds and their parts.
Today, recreational activities account for most of the commercial revenues generated by wild birds in the US. To learn more about the economic impact of bird-related recreational activities see: