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The Southwestern New Mexico Audubon Society serves communities in Catron, Grant, Hidalgo and Luna counties; these include Silver City, Deming, Lordsburg, Glenwood, Cliff, Reserve, the Mimbres Valley, and the Gila National Forest.

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Election to change chapter name: May 1 - 14

Birds are in trouble. Since 1970, the population of North American birds has dropped by nearly 30%; that’s three billion birds, an alarming number. Source: Rosenberg KV, Dokter AM, Blancher PJ, Sauer JR, Smith AC, Smith PA, Stanton JC, Panjabi A, Helft L, Parr M, Marra PP. Decline of the North American avifauna. Science. 2019 Oct 4;366(6461):120-124. 

Birds need our help. Our chapter exists to do what we can to stop this trend: raising appreciation of the stunning array of birds that live in our area and bring joy to our lives and, in turn, inspiring meaningful differences in bird conservation and habitat protection policies and practices.

We need to work in community on behalf of birds. Our name needs to reflect that. The National Audubon Society (NAS) and local chapters across the country have spent time over the last few years learning alarming truths about the commitments and actions of our namesake, John James Audubon, and grappling with what this learning means for our organization. For background, see the FAQ section below

Though the NAS Board voted in March 2023 to retain its original name, chapters across the country have been in the process of changing theirs.

Over the last year, our SWNMA chapter board has been in discussion on this issue and has concluded that our name needs to reflect our values.

While the name “Audubon” means birds and guided field trips to some, to others, the name represents a harmful legacy of racism and white supremacy. Knowing what we know now, our actions need to show that we value making our organization a place where everyone in our diverse local community belongs and is respected.

We believe changing our chapter name is the right thing to do. It’s also a step toward engaging more of our local community, broadening support to address the critical challenges that lay ahead.

The SWNMA Board proposes changing our name to Bird Alliance of Southwestern New Mexico.
Bird conservation work is bigger than our corner of the state and we want to stay connected to that work. Therefore, we’re interested in joining up with the many chapters across the country and in our state who have adopted the name Bird Alliance, including Central New Mexico, Portland, Tahoma, San Francisco, Detroit, Chicago, and Madison

We’re excited to follow their lead in using a name that clearly reflects who we are and what we do:

Bird: Birds are what bring us together; putting that in our name helps others know right away what we’re about.
Alliance: We are part of a network of diverse groups and individuals working together toward the same end.

Now is the time to hear from chapter members. Because our organization’s name means something to members and requires a change in our constitution, we are bringing this proposal to chapter members for a vote.

  • Voting will be open to all members who have paid chapter dues between May 1, 2023 - May 10, 2024. [If you are unsure of your membership status, be sure to contact our membership chair at swnmaudubonmembership@gmail.com. Please don't wait until the last minute to do so!!]
  • We are using a secure system, Election Buddy, to run this important election. Chapter members should expect to receive (by email or post) a unique voter number and instructions to vote by May 1.
  • Voting will open at 8:00 am Wednesday, May 1 and close at midnight on Tuesday, May 14.


What actions did John James Audubon take that led to this name change discussion? While John James Audubon contributed significantly to the care and scientific understanding of birds, he also promoted scientific research in “proving” white supremacy (including stealing indigenous human remains), was an enslaver, and discredited efforts toward the abolition of slavery.

We encourage chapter members to engage in their own learning about John James Audubon’s actions and commitments that have prompted this discussion. Below are articles our chapter Board found to be most enlightening:

Does a name change mean that our chapter will no longer be a part of National Audubon Society? Like other chapters changing their names, we will remain a chapter in the National Audubon Society network. While we disagree with the NAS Board decision to retain its name, we want to stay connected to the collaborative power of the 450 individual chapters working together toward the same goals.

Why is the American Ornithological Society changing its naming practices? Over the past several years, the American Ornithological Society (AOS) has also been examining its exclusionary history. In November 2023, the AOS determined that it would change all of the English names of 70-80 bird species named after people, refocusing attention back to the qualities of the birds. According to President Colleen Handel, “There is power in a name, and some English bird names have associations with the past that continue to be exclusionary and harmful today. We need a much more inclusive and engaging scientific process that focuses attention on the unique features and beauty of the birds themselves.” See American Ornithological Society Will Change the English Names of Bird Species Named After People for more information.