First World Migratory Bird Day celebrated this year

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2018 has been proclaimed “The Year of the Bird”

Cathy Carnes, Special to the Times Herald

Tundra swans rest April 6 just west of Oconto on their migratory journey to their nesting range in the high Arctic. (Photo courtesy of Cathy Carnes)

This year is a special year for bird conservation as it celebrates the first World Migratory Bird Day. Two of the world’s largest bird education programs — the International Migratory Bird Day, started in 1993, and World Bird Day, started in 2006 — have united under this program to celebrate and promote migratory bird conservation around the globe and highlight the urgent need for their conservation.

The initiative has created a worldwide campaign organized around our planet’s three major migratory bird corridors, the African-Eurasian, the East Asian-Australasian and the Americas. Conservation efforts for birds and their habitats occurring in the flyways of the Americas are spearheaded by Environment for the Americas, with the intent of helping birds that range from Canada and the U.S. to the Caribbean and Argentina.

In the U.S. and Canada, the official World Migratory Bird Day will be celebrated this week on the second Saturday of May, when many of our migratory birds return. In the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central and South America, it is generally celebrated during the second Saturday in October to mark the return of birds to these areas. The actual celebration dates may vary, but the observation generally takes place in the spring and/or fall when migratory birds are present.

To further celebrate this new conservation partnership, 2018 has been designated the “Year of the Bird” with program efforts focusing on the ways we can help protect birds every day through actions we can take, stories and art.

Such things as feeding birds, keeping feeders clean, making windows visible to birds to prevent bird strikes, keeping cats indoors and planting native plants are things we can do to help birds. Other actions that promote broader or international bird conservation efforts include contributing to the purchase of and/or restoration of lands for wildlife, contributing to a conservation organization and/or buying products that help, not harm, birds (like shade-grown coffee).

According to Bird Life International, 40 percent of migratory bird species are declining due to various threats, and 200 species are classified as globally threatened. The conservation actions we take are important, as they contribute to maintaining and hopefully increasing the numbers of migratory birds with which we share the world.

For information on World Migratory Bird Day, go to For local information on how to help birds, go to