History of the Urban Bird Treaty

History of the Urban Bird Treaty

Nashville has joined other cities across the country as the 31st Urban Bird Treaty (UBT) city to create bird-friendly environments and provide people with opportunities to connect with nature through bird-related activities as part of the Urban Bird Treaty program. This program is a unique, collaborative effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and participating U.S. cities to create opportunities across the country to make cities healthier places for both birds and people. Launched in 1999, the first treaty was signed with New Orleans and the second with Chicago in 2000. Since that time, an additional 29 cities have become Urban Bird Treaty cities, for a total of 31 spanning from Alaska to Alabama.

Read about our Urban Bird Treaty cities.

The Treaty designation, hosted on World Migratory Bird Day (May 11th 2023), was a product of the collaborative efforts of several core group partners, including the Mayor’s Office, Nashville Parks and Recreation, The Nature Conservancy of Tennessee, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Friends of Warner Parks, and Bird Safe Nashville. In addition to the core group partners, over 60 other organizations participated in developing specific action items for the City and have committed to these actions to increase awareness of the city’s birds and habitats and how essential they are to the welfare of Nashville’s residents and visitors.

Why Nashville?

The impetus to become part of the Urban Bird Treaty Program (UBT) started in spring 2022 after issues arose with a Purple Martin migration roost in downtown Nashville. While Purple Martins have historically roosted along the Cumberland River near Nashville, in August 2020 approximately 150,000 Purple Martins began roosting in the heart of downtown at the Nashville Symphony’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center. This amazing migration phenomenon received local and national attention. The following year, the Purple Martins returned to the migration roost at the Nashville Symphony, drawing more national attention. The complexities of hosting such a large influx of birds in an urban environment led to the realization that Nashville needed a plan in place to support not just the Purple Martins, but all native birds in Nashville. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)’s UBT provides an opportunity for Nashville to create bird-friendly habitats while providing communities the opportunity to connect with nature through bird-related activities.

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