It’s World Migratory Bird Day — and there’s a lot we can do

As photos of migrating birds popped up on a big screen last night, a couple dozen birders from the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia sat in a conference room at the National Wildlife Federation headquarters taking careful notes. Saturday is World Migratory Bird Day, and these folks were getting their marching orders.

Starting at dawn they’ll form teams and scour nearby “Important Bird Areas,” counting species to help evaluate how this year’s migrating birds have fared on the flight across thousands of miles to their breeding grounds. Here are some of what they’re likely to see in a gallery of photos Anders has taken from our recent migration trip (run your cursor over the pictures for their species).


Bird counts are mostly for the hardcore. But if you’re at all interested in birds, if you’re tuning into this spring’s tweet-and-twitter symphony as you move through your day, if you wonder what it’s all about, tomorrow is a great time to learn more.

Zoos, museums, parks and birding organizations all over the country are hosting everything from family-friendly festivals to art exhibits and guided walks for beginners. At Zoo Atlanta, kids can make a simple bird feeder or binoculars to take home. You can walk with birding experts at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge’s daylong celebration, and even make a Mother’s Day card featuring “flying future mothers and their mates” at Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz, California.

Just Google “World Migratory Bird Day events near me” – and voila – you’ll get a complete schedule.

At its core, World Migratory Bird Day is an awareness-raising campaign highlighting the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. Each year there’s a theme, and this time it’s plastic: “Protect Birds: Be the Solution to Plastic Pollution.” There’s a gorgeous logo designed by Cuban artist Arnaldo Toledo Sotolongo, and you can click here for a flyer explaining the problem and some simple protective steps everyone can take.

For starters, you can simply take to social media and share this post and the Bird Day link:

In keeping with our Flying Lessons theme of What we’re learning from the birds, this whole plastic disaster was a shock. We didn’t realize the magnitude — an estimated 8 million tons of plastic waste enter the world’s oceans each year. Plastic doesn’t dissolve. It gets broken down into small particles by water, sunlight and wind. Birds can eat it or else get tangled it in. Either way, it can kill them.

Here are some of our favorite migrating and vulnerable shorebirds that inspire us to be part of the plastic pollution solution:

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