Many wetland restoration projects are underway across the North American landscape, ranging from small, community - based projects of less than 1 ha, to thousands of ha, as in San Francisco Bay or the Everglades. The goals of small projects are generally focused on replanting and sustaining native wetland vegetation, while larger projects often incorporate populations of birds and other vertebrates as part of the criteria for 'success.' Here, I use examples from a number of larger restoration projects from Florida, San Francisco Bay, and Chesapeake Bay, to illustrate several major challenges in planning and implementing those parts of the projects that include waterbirds. These include: (1) setting species priorities at the onset of the project, (2) negotiating among various stakeholders the goals that support wetland ecosystem structural elements (i.e. species and communities) versus those more functionally driven, (3) monitoring reproductive and survival parameters, as well as abundance, to avoid 'sink' situations, and (4) rationalizing control measures for opportunistic species that are not part of the restoration plan. Such projects often provide an ideal setting for the application of adaptive management, but long-term data management and oversight are required to ensure that project 'success' (or failure) is not short-term only.