In 2018 a diverse, tri-national group of conservationists, including KBO’s Executive Director John Alexander, were recognized for their effective collaboration as part of the Western Hummingbird Partnership (WHP).
On World Migratory Day they were presented with the United States Forest Service’s prestigious Wings Across the Americas International Cooperation award. This award recognizes nearly 10 years of the WHP’s commitment the conservation of hummingbirds and their habitats through shared stewardship across international boundaries.
The WHP includes KBO, Environment for the Americas, Point Blue Conservation Science, Universidad de Guadalajara, Hummingbird Monitoring Network, US Forest Service Wings Across the Americas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, Royal Roads University, National Audubon Society, the USA Phenology Network, and others.
The WHP began in 2009 with a trip to Jalisco, Mexico, in January 2009, where Forest Service representatives Cheryl Carrothers, Carol Lively, and Diana Craig met with Professor Sarahy Contreras, Universidad de Guadalajara, to establish the first of the international relationships that have become the mainstay of the partnership. A multi-day workshop in Arizona followed that brought together scientists, land managers and conservationists from the United States, Canada, and Mexico to discuss the conservation needs of North American hummingbirds. Workshop attendees included 82 representatives from 34 diverse institutions including government agencies, nonprofit conservation organizations, universities and individuals.
The workshop attendees recognized that safeguarding hummingbird species that are “shared” by all three countries of North America requires international cooperation as well as engagement from state, local, and tribal partners, businesses and communities. Despite a widespread appreciation for these species, there appeared to be a lack of knowledge among much of the public about the conservation challenges facing hummingbirds and their habitats. Fortunately, the charismatic nature of these tiny birds provided great potential to engage people in addressing conservation issues facing hummingbirds.
WHP is a collaborative approach to hummingbird research, conservation, and education. Working with partners in Canada, the United States, and Mexico, WHP strives to understand what hummingbirds need to survive in a changing world. Since its inception, it has contributed to projects in biosphere reserves, botanic gardens and national forests, and has provided over $200,000 in support of conservation efforts where western hummingbirds nest, stopover during their migrations, and overwinter. In addition to directly influencing the conservation of hummingbirds and their habitats, the partnership contributes to the conservation of related ecosystems and promotes the awareness and appreciation of hummingbirds.