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With at least 4,000 different species of birds that are regularly on the move each year, it’s fun to learn more about them and celebrate on World Migratory Bird Day!

History of World Migratory Bird Day

World Migratory Day had its beginnings in 1993 when visionaries from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center came up with the idea. First founded under the name International Migratory Bird Day, the program was originally directed by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation along with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. By 2007, the responsibility for the day moved to the not for profit organization, Environment for the Americas.

By 2018, the organization joined with others, including the Convention on Migratory Services and Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Water Birds to collaborate for World Migratory Bird Day.

While the official day of celebration for World Migratory Bird Day is on the second Saturday in May each year, the organization recognizes that migratory birds stop in various places along their journey. This means that the celebration can be flexible, depending on the location. In addition, Environment for the Americas encourages people to also catch the migratory birds on their way south in the autumn, celebrating another time on the second Saturday in October.

Each year, World Migratory Bird Day declares a different theme that brings light to the various issues inherent in the pursuit of the conservation of migratory birds. Past themes have included “Water”, “Sing, Fly, Soar — Like a Bird”, and “Birds Connect Our World”.

How to Celebrate World Migratory Bird Day

Have an interesting time paying respect toward these fascinating creatures for World Migratory Bird Day. Get involved with some of these ideas:

Start Bird Watching

One super way to enjoy and appreciate the interesting migratory patterns of birds is by beginning the practice of bird watching. A great thing about bird watching is that it can be practiced locally in any sort of nature area or preserve, or it can be a reason to travel to other places to catch a glimpse of special species. Invest in a pair of binoculars, bring a notebook and pen, have a camera on hand and have fun trying to spot some incredible species of fowl in honor of World Migratory Bird Day.

Enjoy Some Migratory Bird Trivia

Raise awareness for the day and get other people interested in World Migratory Bird Day by sharing some interesting bits of information around the water cooler in the office or around the dinner table with family. Get a start with some of these fun facts about migratory birds:

  • Birds that are in the process of migrating can travel long distances — some of them up to 15,000 miles or more! 

  • The highest flying migratory bird is the bar-headed goose, which reaches altitudes of around 5.5 miles above sea level. 

  • In the US, Wisconsin is a very popular state for migratory birds, with millions of birds crossing the state line every day during the month of May. 

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