Program Overview

Birders’ Exchange provides birdwatching equipment and resources to organizations in the United States, Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean with an educational need. The purpose of the program is to connect people to birds and engage them in birding. Specifically, Birders’ Exchange supports educators and fellow birders in their pursuits to educate their community, build skill sets in bird identification and field observation, conduct citizen science programs, support STEM and STEAM programs, and develop ecotourism opportunities. The ABA works with its partners to obtain binoculars, spotting scopes, cameras, field guides and books, and online resources for the program. Educational programming may also supplement some requests, providing expertise from ABA staff.

Who is Eligible

Educational institutions, tour operators and guides, and nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply to the Birders’ Exchange program. The ABA supports programs that teach field identification, bird guiding, citizen science programs, conservation programs, and general bird and nature programs, including K-12 curriculum, STEM and STEAM programs, and clubs. Organizations must apply and qualify for the program, demonstrating their need and how donations will be used. Click here for the application form

Awardees should expect to complete a brief report and submit photos that can be shared by the ABA.

What Can Be Requested

Birders’ Exchange applicants may request binoculars, spotting scopes, cameras, field guides and books, field journals, access to online resources, and educational support from ABA staff. Quantities of items awarded are determined by ABA staff based on the number of participants served in their program at one time. For example, if an applicant will use the equipment with an entire grade level broken into several groups, the ABA will accommodate the number of participants per group. Binoculars, books and field guides, and field journals will generally be awarded based on this participation. Items such as spotting scopes, cameras, and tripods are available in limited quantities.

Field guides and books may be requested by title or topic, and the ABA will do its best to accommodate specific requests. Specific optics brands may not be requested.

Educational support from ABA staff and volunteers may be requested by topic. We can support your needs from introductory to more advanced birding skills and identification. Describe your needs in the application and we can work with you on a virtual or in-person outreach program.

Application Process

Applicants may apply by submitting this completed application form. There are two open application periods per year. The ABA will consider all completed applications, but may not be able to award every applicant. 

Fall Cohort – Intended for programming that will begin between March and August.

  • Application Period: September 15-November 1
  • Awardee Announcements: November 15-30
  • Toolkits Delivered by February 28
  • Reporting by Awardee due by July 31

Spring Cohort – Intended for programming that will begin between August and February.

  • Application Period: January 1-March 15
  • Awardee Announcements: April 1-15
  • Toolkits Delivered by July 31
  • Reporting by Awardee due by December 31

For questions about the program, contact us at bex@aba.org.

Support Birders’ Exchange

Birders’ Exchange is made possible by the generous support of donors in our birding community. We work closely with our partners to try to fulfill as many deserving requests as possible in order to grow the birding community. We need your support to continue to grow this program. Click here to make a gift to the Birders’ Exchange Program.

DONATE NOW

To inquire about donating gently used binoculars, spotting scopes, cameras, and tripods, please contact us at bex@aba.org. Please note that the ABA cannot accept all equipment donations.

Birders’ Exchange binoculars presented to local Alexander Harpy Eagle nest monitor by Canopy Family guide Eliecer Rodriguez Madrid.

Past Recipients

Fabiola Ramos, of Uaxactún, Petén, Guatemala, a guide-in-training with her binoculars supplied by Birders’ Exchange.

Birders’ Exchange has been an important program of the American Birding Association for many years and has changed the lives of many people who may not have ever gained access to birdwatching equipment or been exposed to birding itself. ABA staff have worked for more than 20 years to connect with programs in Latin America and deliver optics, field guides, and other resources. With the expansion of this program to our own backyard, the ABA Area, we continue to grow the birding community.

  • Eco Huellas (Ecological Footprints), teen environmental group in Argentina supporting a shorebird conservation program focused on Red Knots
  • Researching the biological reproduction of the Tucumán Amazon in Bolivia
  • Junior Ranger Program, educational group creating youth nature ambassadors and assisting with citizen science programs on the island of Bonaire
  • Biodiversity, physical connectivity and related socioeconomic aspects of the Chorotega Biological Corridor in Costa Rica
  • Bichacue Yath, youth educational programs in the vicinity of the Farallones National Park and Tatama National Park in the Western Andes of ColumbiaConservation status project on the Chestnut Bellied Hummingbird and Columbian Mountain Grackle in Soata, Columbia
  • Researching threatened bird species and creating a Field Guide to the Birds of Cuba
  • Basic bird guide training courses with National Audubon and Scarlet Macaw conservation programs near  Petén, Guatemala
  • Los Quetzales Bird Club, teaching first graders about birds and birdwatching in Honduras
  • Crested Eagle and Harpy Eagle nest monitoring around the community of Sinai, located along the Membrillo River in the Comarca of Embera-Wounaan in Panama
  • Environmental education and bird guiding near Asunción, Paraguay
  • Peruvian Plantcutter Project, investigating the biology and ecology of the threatened Peruvian Plantcutter