Bringing Back the Birds

Exploring Migration and Preserving Birdscapes

throughout the Americas

From American Bird Conservancy, photographs by Owen Deutsch

Foreword by Jonathan Franzen, original poem by Margaret Atwood

For many of us, birds form a backdrop to our lives. We hear their songs in the morning and almost subliminally note their presence throughout the day. Some of us seek them out, always watching for certain arrivals that herald a new season or for unusual species we hope to see. We may also notice the absence of birds, wondering why we haven’t seen as many of a certain bird this year or realizing it’s been several years since we spotted a favorite. The bad news is that human actions threaten bird populations in myriad ways, resulting in the endangerment or extinction of many species. The good news is that it’s in our power to reduce those threats and to bring back the birds.

With species ranging from tiny iridescent-green hummingbirds to giant, gangly flightless rheas, the Americas feature an astonishing array of birds that rely upon the hemisphere’s tremendous diversity of habitats. That reliance may be very localized or it may reach across continents: for instance, Swainson’s Thrushes travel from South America all the way to Alaska, while certain grebes spend their entire lives on a single lake. This means our actions as humans can affect not only year-round resident birds but also those that are often half a world away.


“Winged movement is birds’ essence and glory. . . . How well birds do will depend, in large part, on our commitment to conserving them, and on the creativeness of our conservation solutions.” - Jonathan Franzen

“Thanks to the allure that birds have for every human culture, and thanks also to the information birds provide about the places where they live, a magnificent and globally available barometer finally has emerged, which—if we listen to what birds are telling  us—could help ensure the persistence of Earth’s natural systems.”

— John W. Fitzpatrick, executive director, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

About the Author

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is on a mission to protect and restore bird populations throughout the Americas with a goal to have birds routinely prioritized in all land-use and policy decision-making. Their grassroots habitat conservation efforts focus on the entire range upon which birds’ lives depend—from their nesting and feeding grounds to their migratory flyways and stopovers.

ABC’s initiatives captured the attention of photographer Owen Deutsch, who has spent the last twenty years traveling around the world striving to capture the essence of birds. He soon found his fascination with the beauty of birds evolving into a passion for saving them. In this elegant collection of his photographs, he has joined with ABC to share not only what is extraordinary about birds, but also to enlighten us about the threats they face and what we can do about it.

All Writers & Contributors

Jonathan Franzen, an avid birder, speaks eloquently about our relationship with birds.

Margaret Atwood is well known through her award-winning books and for her passionate commitment to save birds and their habitat. Her never-before-published poem expresses her connection to these primordial creatures.

Peter P. Marra, from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center

Kimberly Kaufman and Kenn Kaufman

John W. Fitzpatrick, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Michael Parr and Clare Nielsen of ABC provide a wide range of expert knowledge through evocative language grounded in science and observation. The authors also explore our human relationship with birds and highlight ABC’s work to set up reserves, educate the public, and support actions that preserve, as well as protect birds.