A fundamental need in conserving species and their habitats is defining distinct entities that range from individuals to species to ecosystems and beyond (Table 1; Ryder 1986, Moritz 1994, Mayden and Wood 1995, Haig and Avise 1996, Hazevoet 1996, Palumbi and Cipriano 1998, Hebert et al. 2004, Mace 2004, Wheeler et al. 2004, Armstrong and Ball 2005, Baker 2008, Ellis et al. 2010, Winker and Haig 2010). Rapid progression in this interdisciplinary field continues at an exponential rate; thus, periodic updates on theory, techniques, and applications are important for informing practitioners and consumers of genetic information. Here, we outline conservation topics for which genetic information can be helpful, provide examples of where genetic techniques have been used best in avian conservation, and point to current technical bottlenecks that prevent better use of genomics to resolve conservation issues related to birds. We hope this review will provide geneticists and avian ecologists with a mutually beneficial dialogue on how this integrated field can solve current and future problems.