Photograph by Joel Sartore
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Northern White-faced Owl (Ptilopsis leucotis)
Photograph by Joel Sartore

Celebrate Year of the Bird

National Geographic spearheads 12 months of storytelling, science, and action.

One hundred years ago, as the last passenger pigeons vanished from the skies and environmental consciousness was dawning, leaders of the National Geographic Society were instrumental in passing the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act, visionary legislation that has saved the lives of millions if not billions of birds.

During Year of the Bird we will envision the next hundred years of conservation, push the frontiers of science, and celebrate the splendor of birds.

“The future of birds, and us, are intertwined more than we know,” says photographer Joel Sartore. “We soar, or plummet, together.”

Bird Your World

Help build a better world for birds by taking a simple but meaningful action each month. Activities include habitat conservation, citizen science, and bird-watching. Sign the pledge at to join the flock, and share your actions using #BirdYourWorld and #YearoftheBird.

In his National Geographic cover story “Why Birds Matter,” novelist Jonathan Franzen muses, “They are our last, best connection to a natural world that is otherwise receding.” The avian kingdom is particularly vulnerable to industrial threats, habitat degradation, and climate change. Year of the Bird offers an unprecedented opportunity to harness our collective passion to prevent extinctions and bring birds back.

Books for Bird Lovers

In support of Year of the Bird, National Geographic is publishing several field guides and photography books for adults and children.

National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America was fully revamped for its seventh edition, with new art, maps, taxonomy, and updated features. In its 35th year, this iconic guide has 2.75 million copies in print and was named the best field guide of North America by the New York Times’

Spark a passion for birding in youngsters with National Geographic Kids Bird Guide of North America, 2nd Edition (available March 6, 2018), and the rich treasury Fly With Me: A Celebration of Birds Through Pictures, Poems, and Stories (available October 16, 2018).

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Photo lovers will relish Birds of the Photo Ark (available March 6, 2018), which pairs elegant, charismatic, and often humorous bird portraits by Joel Sartore with evocative text by Big Year birder extraordinaire Noah Strycker. The capstone to Year of the Bird is the forthcoming release of The Splendor of Birds: Art and Photographs From National Geographic (October 23, 2018), which exquisitely presents the very best visuals from the archives depicting the magnificence of birds.

Cross-Platform Synergy

The genesis of Year of the Bird came from the book-publishing group at National Geographic, but the idea quickly caught fire. Market research indicates that birders are represented in every segment of the population, and the emergence of new platforms presents an unprecedented opportunity to reach them through a variety of media.

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Editor in Chief of National Geographic magazine Susan Goldberg recently observed, “We’ve been looking at the planet’s health from a bird’s-eye view from a long time … In 2018 we’ll take our coverage of topics affecting birds to a new level.”

Creative teams across National Geographic rose to the challenge and produced an array of spectacular content. The bird pipeline includes Snapchats of bird mating dances, a masterly migration map combining art and data, NG WILD TV specials, specialty retail, guided tours to birding hot spots, international publications, and long-form magazine features in every issue of the year. See the official press release for more content teasers.

The Global Partnership

The key partners in this campaign are the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society, and BirdLife International, joined by a network of nearly 200 additional organizations including conservation groups, state and federal agencies, zoos, and ornithological societies. Birds crisscross borders and oceans, flitting through our yards and gardens as a living symbol of our connection to nature and to each other.