Leading a local community in appreciating, understanding, and protecting birds and their natural habitats.


Seattleā€™s Urban Bird Treaty Takes Flight!

A city known for its coffee and emerald forest is now a sanctuary for resident and migrating birds!

Seattle may be best known for its aromatic coffee and swath of emerald forest that stretches across King County, but now it has another claim to fame! On Friday, May 5, 2017 the city signed an Urban Bird Treaty with the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. By signing the treaty, the city recognizes the importance of protecting urban bird habitat, reducing hazards to migrating birds, and connecting people to nature within the city limits.

The Fish and Wildlife Service’s Urban Bird Treaty program was started in 1999 to help local governments protect migratory birds within cities. The first treaty was signed by New Orleans and soon after Chicago followed suit. Today there are more than 25 Urban Bird Treaty cities across the nation. Seattle will join San Francisco, Portland, and Anchorage as an Urban Bird Treaty City, thus filling in a critical missing coastal link along the Pacific Flyway.

The goal of the program is to create a partnership of federal, state, municipal, non-governmental and academic institutions in order to develop programs that help migrating birds and connect urban populations to the natural world. The Seattle Urban Bird Treaty Partnership includes Seattle Audubon, Audubon Washington, Heron Habitat Helpers, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the City of Seattle/Seattle Parks and Recreation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

Seattle’s Urban Bird Treaty will protect habitat underneath the Pacific Flyway- which ranges from Alaska to Argentina- and includes arctic tundra, coastal beaches, dense forests, and vast deserts. Each spring and fall, migrating birds pulse through the Seattle area and face many hazards such as predation from cats and collision with buildings. 

The Urban Bird Treaty Program is important because, according to one researcher, cities capture about 20 percent of the world’s avian biodiversity.  Our city boasts a diverse array of bird life from Bald Eagles to Great Blue Herons to Yellow Warblers, all of whom will benefit from the Treaty programs.

Urban Bird Treaty programs can be related to a wide variety of topics including invasive species control and native plant restoration, as well as the reduction of hazards related to migration such as bird friendly architecture and lights out programs. Another key part of the Treaty is to connect urban populations to the natural world through environmental education and citizen science.

A heartfelt thank you is in order for the Fish and Wildlife Service, the city of Seattle and other partners that made the Treaty signing possible. The Treaty is a great first step in preserving urban bird habitat, but it will also connect children and adults alike with natural places within the increasingly crowded and fast paced life of our city. The signing of the Treaty was a harbinger of good things to come- for birds and people.


The Urban Bird Treaty Signing was featured on a variety of media outlets: 

The West Seattle Blog 

Northwest Sportsman

The Stranger 


USFWS Pacific Region


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