May 11

International Migratory Bird Day

International Migratory Bird Day

In 1993, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center created International Migratory Bird Day. This educational campaign focused on the Western Hemisphere and has been coordinated since 2007 by Environment for the Americas (EFTA), a non-profit organization that works to connect people with bird conservation. It always takes place on the second Saturday in May and October.

The World Migratory Bird Day is an annual campaign that highlights the need for the protection of migratory birds and their habitats. The 2023 campaign focuses on the importance of water for migratory birds, as water ecosystems are vital for their feeding, drinking, nesting, resting, and refueling during their long journeys. Unfortunately, water ecosystems are increasingly threatened by human demand for water, pollution, and climate change, which directly impacts the availability of clean water and the conservation of many migratory bird species.
Bird migration is the seasonal movement of birds between their breeding and wintering grounds. Migration routes are influenced by topography, such as mountain ranges and waterways, as well as historical factors. Birds can be categorized into long-distance migrants, which travel thousands of kilometers, and short-distance migrants, which migrate locally. Migration timing is regulated by genetic and environmental factors, including the length of daylight, weather conditions, social cues, and food availability. Birds use various navigational cues, such as the Earth's magnetic field, olfactory perception, visual landmarks, and the position of the sun and stars.
Migratory birds have evolved physiological, hormonal, and neurological adaptations to cope with the challenges of migration, such as increasing fat reserves, controlling sleep, shrinking organs before migration, and timing molting. With global warming, migratory birds are experiencing significant changes, including earlier departures to their wintering grounds. The protection of migratory bird species requires international cooperation, as demonstrated by conventions like the Bonn Convention and the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds.
Bird migration has fascinated humanity for centuries, with references found in ancient texts like the Old Testament and Homer's Iliad. The study of bird migration has advanced with modern scientific methods, such as bird banding and telemetry devices like geolocators. Despite the intensive research and technological advancements, many questions about bird migration remain unanswered.
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