Threatened species programs need a social license to justify public funding. A contingent valuation survey of a broadly representative sample of the Australian public found that almost two thirds (63%) supported funding of threatened bird conservation. These included 45% of a sample of 645 respondents willing to pay into a fund for threatened bird conservation, 3% who already supported bird conservation in another form, and 15% who could not afford to pay into a conservation fund but who nevertheless thought that humans have a moral obligation to protect threatened birds. Only 6% explicitly opposed such payments. Respondents were willing to pay about AUD 11 annually into a conservation fund (median value), including those who would pay nothing. Highest values were offered by young or middle aged men, and those with knowledge of birds and those with an emotional response to encountering an endangered bird. However, the prospect of a bird going extinct alarmed almost everybody, even most of those inclined to put the interests of people ahead of birds and those who resent the way threatened species sometimes hold up development. The results suggest that funding for threatened birds has widespread popular support among the Australian population. Conservatively they would be willing to pay about AUD 14 million per year, and realistically about AUD 70 million, which is substantially more than the AUD 10 million currently thought to be required to prevent Australian bird extinctions.