Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative: Small Grants Program

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

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Anticipated deadline: Mar 1, 2021

Grant amount: Up to US $5,000

Fields of work: Ornithological Conservation Land/Habitat Conservation

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: Project / Program, Education / Outreach, Research

Location of project: United States

Location of residency: United States

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About this funder:



Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative

Land trusts are an increasingly popular mechanism to protect private lands and potentially conserve birds and their habitats. Through fee acquisitions, voluntary conservation easements, and stewardship, land trusts have become powerful agents of land conservation and their reach continues to expand. From 2005 to 2010, more than 1,700 state, local, and national land trusts in the U.S. have more than doubled their land holdings to 47 million acres – an area larger than all New England states combined and 90% of the land area protected by National Parks.

At the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Cornell Lab), we believe land trusts can help birds, and birds can benefit land trusts. To develop mutually beneficial collaborations between land trusts and the bird conservation community, the Cornell Lab’s Conservation Science program launched our Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative in 2013. This initiative provides bird-related resources, tools, partnership, and funding opportunities to advance the pace and impact of land trusts’ protection and stewardship efforts through birds. We aim to build the capacity of land trusts to meet their own goals and to achieve strategic bird conservation on private lands. We support land trusts in prioritizing lands for bird conservation, developing and implementing bird monitoring projects, managing habitats, developing successful funding proposals, and increasing their community support. 

One objective of the Cornell Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative is to provide funding to facilitate high priority, bird-focused conservation projects. Partners are encouraged to use the awarded funds to leverage additional dollars from community groups and other funding agencies, as well as create capacity to accomplish conservation goals. To meet this objective, we launched a Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative Small Grants Program in 2017.


To support land trusts and their partners in accomplishing bird conservation on private lands through acquisition/easements, habitat planning, outreach, and research.

Request for Proposals

This year the grant program will fund six grants – three each at $5,000 and $20,000. Grants will support land trusts and their partners in accomplishing bird conservation on private lands through activities such as strategic planning, outreach, habitat management, stewardship, and capacity building. In addition to funding, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology will provide technical support and advice to recipients.

The $5,000 awards will be given to projects that facilitate bird-focused conservation projects. We are looking for land trusts working collaboratively with multiple partners and/or who are willing to pass along their project ideas and lessons-learned to other land trusts by presenting a talk at a regional meeting, hosting a workshop, or presenting at the Land Trust Alliance Rally. Our goal is to build land trust capacity by teaching or demonstrating how birds can enhance strategic planning and mission fulfillment of land trusts, and facilitate mutually beneficial collaborations with the bird conservation community. Priority will be given to the formation of new, regional or state based land trust collaboratives with multiple partners – for examples of collaboratives, see the St. Lawrence Valley Collaborative and the Western Vermont Collaborative.

The $20,000 awards will support projects that actively manage, restore, and/or steward land in a way that enhances habitat and promotes bird conservation, with special emphasis on priority species or those identified in State Wildlife Action Plans. Preference will be given to land trusts with management experience. Previous small grant awardees are welcome to apply, especially if it takes the initial project to the next level and builds on the successes generated from the previous award. To see examples of the types of activities that we would consider funding with a $20,000 award, visit the Small Grant Example Activities page.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Currently we are only able to fund organizations in the US.
  • Applicants can apply for either amount and are welcome to submit or be a partner on more than one proposal for different projects.
  • Applicants should articulate clear project objectives, plan of activities, and expected conservation outcomes with associated measures of success
  • Indirect costs cannot exceed 10%
  • Bird data associated with funded projects must be entered in eBird.


  • Matching funds are not required, but applications will be strengthened if funds are supplemented by in-kind or partner contributions, matching dollars, or other resources that will leverage the impact of the proposed work.