The National Audubon Society is one of the most well known bird-oriented wildlife conservation organizations in the United States. By understanding what the Society’s mission is and what causes and issues it supports, birders can decide whether a National Audubon Society membership is right for them.
The National Audubon Society was officially founded in 1905 (with roots going back to 1886) when a group of concerned birders made a stand against the use of great egret feathers in fashion design. At the time, great egrets were only one of the birds whose feathers were highly sought after for decorating hats and other clothing, but as the great egret population fell, birders chose the species as a symbol of the conservation movement. Today, the great egret is still part of the National Audubon Society’s logo.
The society was named after John James Audubon (1785-1851), a noted ornithologist and naturalist who created field guide catalogs of birds, plants and wildlife. Today, many of the Society’s goals mirror those of its namesake.
What the Society Does Today
The National Audubon Society is comprised of a national network of wildlife sanctuaries, nature centers and community groups dedicated to following its mission of conserving and restoring natural habitats and ecosystems for birds and wildlife, with an emphasis on both community participation and the preservation of biological diversity. To accomplish this mission, the Society is engaged in a range of activities, including:
- Political advocacy related to environmental and conservation issues
- Citizen science projects such as the Christmas Bird Count and the Great Backyard Bird Count
- Local and national wildlife conservation education programs
- Establishing and maintaining wildlife sanctuaries and preserves
In pursuing these initiatives, the National Audubon Society is involved in a range of issues, always taking the side of preserving and protecting wildlife with a fundamental balance for the needs of man. Examples include:
- Wind Power: The National Audubon Society supports wind power as a clean, efficient energy source, but wind farm locations and installations must be carefully researched and planned with minimal impact on migrating birds and local wildlife.
- Global Warming: Global warming is seen as one of the most dangerous environmental threats to wildlife today, and steps must be taken immediately to curb its impact on both wildlife and delicate habitats.
- Endangered Species: The National Audubon Society participates in a number of projects to monitor threatened or endangered species and lobbies to have those species protected under state and federal laws. Because of the Society’s programs, birds such as the whooping crane, bald eagle, cerulean warbler, peregrine falcon and red knot are recovering from drastic declines.
National Audubon Society Membership
Joining the National Audubon Society is a way for birders to contribute to the organization’s ongoing efforts to preserve wildlife and its diversity. Annual membership fees are $20 for United States citizens, $45 for Canadian citizens and $50 for international citizens. Different membership promotions and incentives are regularly available.
With membership, birders not only get to help promote the importance of conservation, but they also receive benefits such as:
- Membership in local chapters with events such as educational programs, conferences, festivals and field trips
- Access to 100 wildlife sanctuaries (subject to ongoing conservation projects)
- Discounted travel opportunities focused on wildlife
- A subscription to the bi-monthly Audubon magazine
For more information, visit Audubon.org.