Program: Audubon's Migratory Bird Initiative
Speaker: Chad Witko, Senior Coordinator, Avian Biology, National Audubon Society
The mission of the Migratory Bird Initiative is to secure the future of migratory birds in the Western Hemisphere by reducing direct threats and protecting key places across the Americas in coordination with science, conservation and policy partners.
The Initiative brings together the latest spatial information on species distributions and movements across their annual cycles to identify priority areas for 458 species of migratory birds that regularly occur in the United States and Canada. We will use this information to define where and how to focus Audubon’s conservation investments in order to protect, restore and manage key habitat and also mitigate threats along full migratory pathways for these species.
Audubon expects to achieve these goals by 1) consolidating and elevating the best-available migration science, filling research gaps and identifying real-time threats throughout annual cycle; 2) strengthening connections and cooperation among key stakeholders such as government agencies, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions and the Audubon network, and 3) informing policy advocacy at the local, state and federal level to drive science-based conservation.
Migratory birds face threats during all stages of the annual cycle, and these threats are accelerating. Fortunately, scientific data, particularly during migration, are accumulating; however, we need to act swiftly and collectively to protect birds and the places they need before the opportunities to do so disappear. Partnerships will be central to the success of the Migratory Bird Initiative, and Audubon looks forward to building and strengthening relationships with other key research and conservation organizations.
As Senior Coordinator, Chad Witko communicates about the Migratory Bird Initiative and other science programs within Audubon, working with data and knowledge holders across the Western Hemisphere to build relationships and acquire migratory bird datasets. Through this work, he is a principal contributor to the development of the Bird Migration Explorer.
As an expert birder and ornithologist, Chad provides a lifetime of birding knowledge and nearly twenty years of field experience to the National Science Division at Audubon.
Before joining Audubon in 2019, Chad worked on various bird research, conservation, and education projects across the United States. These include developing avian conservation strategies linked to forestry efforts in New Hampshire, serving as an eBird state reviewer, mist-netting and banding migratory passerines in California, and educating visitors to Eastern Egg Rock about seabird restoration efforts for Project Puffin.
Chad holds a BS in Environmental and Forest Biology from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and an MS in Conservation Biology and a Certificate in Applied Spatial Analysis for GIS from Antioch University New England. He currently resides in Vermont with his partner and daughter.