“Helping Birds Along the Way” is the theme for this year’s International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD), the only international education program that celebrates the migration of nearly 350 bird species between their nesting habitats in North America and wintering grounds in Latin America, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
This year IMBD will celebrate the importance of stopover sites, crucial refuges where migratory birds rest and refuel before continuing their remarkable journeys. Because these flights can stretch thousands of kilometers across continents and oceans, the birds depend upon a handful of resource-rich and strategically located habitats to acquire the energy-rich fat stores they need to survive.
From coastal estuaries and marshes to forests and grasslands, stopover sites support millions of migratory shorebirds, waterfowl, and songbirds. “Stopover habitats are critical to the survival of birds that travel large distances,” says Greg Butcher, Migratory Bird Program Coordinator for the U.S. Forest Service’s Office of International Programs. “Providing healthy habitats during migration is essential to migratory birds.”
Now in its 24th year, IMBD has grown from a one-day event into a framework underpinning hundreds of projects and programs year-round. IMBD is coordinated by Environment for the Americas, a Colorado-based organization which provides bilingual educational materials and information about birds and bird conservation throughout the Americas. Their programs inspire children and adults to get outdoors, learn about birds, and participate in their conservation.
Each year IMBD explores a different aspect of migratory birds. In 2017, participants at more than 700 locations from Argentina to Canada will learn how protecting and restoring stopover sites can benefit migratory birds, the symbolic harbingers of the seasons. Because habitat loss is considered the largest threat to these birds, IMBD events will include restoration activities like clean-ups and planting native species, as well as educational presentations, bird walks, and creative art projects.
“Through International Migratory Bird Day, we work to engage people of all ages to make their homes and communities safe places for birds,” says Susan Bonfield1, Executive Director of Environment for the Americas. “There are many small actions that people can take to help protect migratory birds.” One way that people can help birds along their way, says Bonfield, is to transform their backyards into safe stopover sites by planting native vegetation, providing fresh water, and keeping cats indoors.
Although IMBD is traditionally celebrated in Canada and the U.S. on the second Saturday in May, in reality every day is bird day, and programs, festivals, and other events occur throughout the year, whenever it works best for organizers—and the birds.
“Ultimately, the goal of IMBD is to connect people to nature through birds,” says Laura Koloski, Program Coordinator for Environment for the Americas.
To learn more about migratory bird habitats, download IMBD educational and promotional materials in Spanish and English, and search for activities planned in your area, visit http://www.migratorybirdday.org/.
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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Susan Bonfield, Executive Director, Environment for the Americas, Boulder, CO, USA. Email: [email protected]; Tel: 970-393-1183
Laura Koloski, Program Coordinator, Environment for the Americas, Boulder, CO, USA. Email: [email protected]; Tel: 303-499-1950