Here are some of the things the MOU does to achieve these goals:
We publish and share information. Both The Loon and Minnesota Birding have been informing people about birds for many decades. One need only look back at older issues of The Loon (and before that, The Flicker) to see that this journal was the premier publication for disseminating research, observations, and other reports on birds in Minnesota. In an increasingly digital world these publications now compete with many other ways of communicating this same information, but their roles in doing so and the value of their information to the conservation of birds in Minnesota remain largely unchanged.
We serve as a repository for records. We are privileged to house over a century’s-worth of Minnesota bird records from thousands of observers. This vast database provides a particularly powerful historical context of birds in our state and establishes the foundation for assessing changes in Minnesota’s avifauna over time. These data are open source and freely available to anyone wishing to use them, and are frequently referenced by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and other organizations for the purposes of research, land management, and other conservation efforts and studies.
We conduct field trips. Having personal experiences with Minnesota’s birds and their habitats is integral to fostering care for them. And relationships with our birds are best made when we go birding. Offering guided field trips to see various birds and where they live is an excellent way to provide these experiences to others so that they may have the opportunity to form their own personal conservation ethics and see firsthand why conservation matters.
We award grants for research and support programs that educate members and the public about birds. There is, unfortunately, not enough money being spent on our natural resources, including birds. Through our Savaloja grants, the MOU is able to provide over $10,000 in funds annually to projects dedicated to the study and conservation of Minnesota’s birds and other educational pursuits. In addition, we are fortunate to have a very skilled membership that volunteers countless hours each year to educate people about birds in Minnesota. From youth mentors providing the next generation with their first bird experiences to state fair booth volunteers explaining to landowners the value of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land to grassland birds in western Minnesota, the MOU greatly benefits conservation efforts by providing the public with its expertise on birds in our state.
Part of our rich heritage in Minnesota is a strong history of environmental ethics, from the creation of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (one of the most visited natural areas in the United States) to our ever popular state parks and recreation areas that offer year-round chances to connect with birds and nature. Minnesota continues to harbor vast tracts of coniferous woodlands, bogs, and peatlands in its north, and our natural resource partners strive to recreate the extensive prairies that once stretched from the Canadian border in northwest Minnesota all the way to Iowa in the southern extent of the state. The birds we enjoy observing are no less a part of this same heritage and deserve our support.