Songbird Art Contest

The Art of Conservation®

Throughout history, North America has been home to tremendous diversity of wildlife and bird species. Since the 1960s, Songbird populations in North America have dropped 29 percent over historic averages. Three billion birds have been lost with additional species decline each year. Many species of songbirds are threatened and at risk for becoming endangered. Habitat loss and the use of chemicals have been linked to declines of over 50 percent in some species.  Recent studies revealed drastic population losses in the 529 bird species observed across the entire western hemisphere. While one single factor cannot be attributed to these losses, the data is clear that public awareness and education about this critical issue is needed now, more than ever.

The Art of Conservation® Songbird Art Contestis a new art competition hosted by Wildlife Forever, focused on sharing the wonder and species diversity of North American songbirds. Building off the successful Wildlife Forever Fish Art Contest® and inspired by the legacy of artist and conservationist Jay Norwood Darling, participants will learn about a North American Songbird Species and compete for prizes and international recognition.

The contest will focus on conservation education as modeled in the State-Fish Art Contest® and be available to all ages with a strong focus on youth engagement. Participants will be required to submit an original piece of artwork accompanied by an essay detailing the unique characteristics of their chosen bird species and conservation needs. Participants will have until November 30th of each year to submit their entry to the contest by mail to Wildlife Forever. A judging event will be held in December with avian biologists, local birders and partner organizations with winners being announced on National Bird Day, January 5th.

Connecting people to nature through the arts has helped to transform policy and management, greatly  benefitting wildlife species across the world. Raising awareness and educating the public on how to help recover North America’s songbird population will create stewardship and lasting benefits to people young and old, ensuring the future of conservation.

Our Partner, Jay N. Darling Legacy Center

The Jay N. Darling Legacy Center is a non-profit friends group to support, enhance and champion Jay N. Darling’s legacy.

Jay Norwood Darling (1876-1962), was a 20th century two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist, a journalist, an artist, a conservation activist and an advocate of sport hunting and fishing.  Darling spent his life promoting the wise use of our natural resources and pursuing concrete actions to keep these values vibrant and alive. Darling left an extraordinary footprint across our nation’s landscape that inspires us even today.

By the age of five, Jay Norwood Darling, the son of a pastor, already had a sketchbook in hand as he explored his 1870’s outdoors. Hired by Gardner Cowles in 1906 at the Des Moines Register, his sketching talents led to his 15,000 plus cartoons that helped shape our American landscape. His footprints are alive today in many of the organizations he founded. A modern-day Renaissance man, Jay N. Darling was a master at bringing people together to partner and cooperate in  realizing what for some would be dreams, creating a better world through compromise while respecting  nature.

The Songbird Art Contest™ will steward Darling’s legacy by connecting young people with nature through the arts. Building stewardship through conservation education will empower future generations to ensure the legacy of our natural resources. The Jay N. Darling Legacy Center, based in Des Moines, Iowa, supports this extraordinary endeavor and will work to endorse, promote, and find resources to help build this important program in restoring our songbirds and their habitats.

Get Involved

To develop this program, Wildlife Forever is seeking partner collaboration. The Songbird Art Contest™ will focus on conservation education as modeled in the Fish Art Contest and be available to all ages with a strong focus on youth engagement.

If you are interested in supporting this program or would like to learn more, please contact

Songbird Art Contest Updates


Wildlife Forever and Jay N. Darling Legacy Center Unveil Songbird Art Contest™


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How to Enter

The inaugural Songbird Art Contest™ will open, and all contest details will be released on May 1st, 2021.