Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA)

The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA) was passed in 2002 in order to promote the long-term conservation of neotropical migratory birds and their habitats.  The act established a competitive, matching grants program that supports public-private partnerships carrying out noteworthy projects in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean.  

By law, at least 75% of the total funding available for grants each fiscal year must be used to support projects outside the U.S. As such, the program has proven to be successful in catalyzing partnerships and capacity building for neotropical migratory bird conservation across the Western Hemisphere.

The goals of the NMBCA are to:

  • Perpetuate healthy populations of neotropical migratory birds
  • Provide financial resources for bird conservation initiatives
  • Foster international cooperation for such initiatives

Funding for the program steadily increased from $3 to $5 million during the 2002-2009 congressional years, but dipped down to $4 million in 2011. In 2012, $3.78 million funded 28 projects in 26 countries.

For more information see these fact sheets:

Leveraging Funds for Effective Conservation in the Americas (PDF, English, June 2013)

Achieving Measurable Conservation Outcomes for High Priority Species (PDF, English, June 2013)

See videos about NMBCA here.


New Pilot Program Targets Species of Concern


The 2012 NMBCA program initiated a pilot program designed to focus a portion of funding (approximately 25 to 30 percent of any Fiscal Year 2012 appropriation) to a group of particularly threatened Neotropical migratory birds. The remainder of the funding (70 to 75 percent) was used, as in past years, in the core program, which catalyzes conservation of any eligible Neotropical migratory bird species and directs funding to the most competitive proposals from a broad spectrum of partners, geographies, threats, species and conservation approaches.

2013 Partner Grant Recepients: 

Mexico, Colorado
Project: U.S.-Mexico Grassland Bird Conservation, Phase XI.
Location: Colorado; Chihuahua, Mexico.
Grantee: Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory.
Contact: Arvind Panjabi,
Partners: Colorado State Land Board.
Approved: April 2013.
Grant: $200,000.
Matching Funds: $600,000.
Ecoregion: NA0815NA1301.
This project will continue work funded by the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act since 2002 to conserve high-priority and declining grassland bird species of western North America. In this phase the project will expand work with landowners in Chihuahua to improve habitat and reduce threats to Sprague’s Pipit and up to 27 other high-priority grassland birds on at least 37,065 hectares. It will also develop best management practices for seven high-priority grassland bird species breeding in Colorado. This will improve habitat management and reduce threats from oil and gas development. The project goal is to double the wintering population of pipits on project sites in Chihuahua and more than triple populations of other high-priority species over the next 4-5 years.
Canada, Montana
Project: Habitat Management to Conserve the Sprague’s Pipit II.
Location: Montana, USA; Saskatchewan, Canada.
Grantee: Wildlife Conservation Society.
Contact: Dr. Kevin Ellison,
Partners: American Prairie Reserve.
Approved: April 2013.
Grant: $27,474.
Matching Funds: $94,851. 
NonMatching Funds: None.
Ecoregion: NA0811.
Sprague’s Pipit breed exclusively in the northern Great Plains. They are habitat specialists that require patches of relatively tall, native grass cover. Largely due to land conversion, less than 18% of the grassland in the breeding range of the Sprague’s Pipit remains. This project will build on a previous grant to create critical habitat for the pipit through modified grazing management, working with willing land managers. The grantee will improve the habitat by deferment of grazing (3,590 acres); compare the pipit's use of those lands to nearby “controls”; and provide outreach to ranchers and agencies on management options to conserve this important migratory species. The long-term goal of this project is to provide enough habitat to reverse the pipit’s decline in population locally, increasing the estimated population by a minimum of 1% (approximately 800 individuals).
Project: Maverick Ranch Conservation Easement Project.
Location: Las Animas County, Colorado.
Grantee: The Nature Conservancy.
Contact: Missy Davis,
Partners: None.
Approved: April 2013.
Grant: $200,000.
Matching Funds: $600,000.
NonMatching Funds: None.
Ecoregion: NA0815.
The grantee will acquire a conservation easement on approximately 33,000 acres of high priority grassland, piñon juniper forest, and riparian habitat for Neotropical migratory birds in Colorado’s central shortgrass prairie. Grassland birds have declined more steeply than any other group of North American birds, primarily due to habitat fragmentation or conversion. The habitat is critical to at least five declining grassland birds: Long-billed Curlew, Western Meadowlark, Cassin’s Sparrow, Loggerhead Shrike and Lark Sparrow.