Waterbird Conservation Overview

Carson Lake Marshes
Don McIvor
Carson Lake Marshes, an Important Bird Area (IBA) in Nevada

The best way to protect waterbirds is to not let them and the habitats they require become endangered in the first place. Thus some of the most successful approaches to waterbird conservation involve protecting functioning habitats and managing the resources contained within. Complementary efforts to restore and enhance waterbird habitat have enabled species to return to and exploit the potential of suitable areas, and species reintroduction programs have secured the return of some waterbirds to historical regions.


Waterbird conservation efforts of the past and present have been facilitated by varied mechanisms, including:

  • several important pieces of legislation that have paved the way for the funding, implementation, and enforcement of a diverse array of conservation projects
  • several recent broad-scale waterbird conservation "initiatives" that incorporate the knowledge and experience of a diverse group of people, and guide on-the-ground conservation and management plans across the country
  • an indefatigable population of people committed to preserving biodiversity and environmental health


Audubon has consistently provided national leadership in efforts to conserve and restore waterbirds and their habitats. Audubon's accomplishments build on more than a century of unwavering commitment to waterbird conservation, and many have resulted from the development of rigorous science-based conservation programs. Audubon's recent partnership with Monsanto has enabled the development of the Waterbirds on Working Lands Project; a program to protect North American waterbird species with the greatest potential to be impacted by agricultural practices.

Please peruse the pages here for insights into the mechanisms underlying many other waterbird conservation successes of the past and present.

In addition, please see our:

  • Conservation Status Overview for a succinct examination of North American waterbird population status and trends since 1966.
  • Issues and Answers Overview for a summary of the conservation threats faced by North American Waterbirds and approaches to mediating population declines.
  • The Species pages for detailed information on distribution, ecology, threats to viability, and population trends.