When and Why is World Migratory Bird Day Celebrated?

World Migratory Bird Day aims to raise awareness of international bird migration routes.
World Migratory Bird Day aims to raise awareness of international bird migration routes.

Several species of birds move from one region of the world to another with the change in seasons. The birds fly across thousands of miles often in flocks to areas with suitable environmental conditions for them to feed or breed. Birds migrate following different patterns as some species migrate to the north for winter after spawning in the southern region of Africa while other species migrate to various altitudes along a mountain depending on the season. The Arctic tern covers the longest distance of all the migratory birds as it travels more than 44,000 miles annually. The United Nations, in 2006, decided that the second weekend of May each year would be celebrated as World Migratory Bird Day.

History of World Migratory Bird Day

65 nations from Africa and Eurasia signed an independent treaty referred to as the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement to foster cooperation in conserving bird species that migrate along the African Eurasian Flyway. The scope of the treaty has increased to include more areas such as the Canadian Archipelago. The agreement covers 254 migratory bird species and came into effect on November 1, 1999. The species covered by the treaty have to meet specific criteria; wetlands must be vital in their lifecycles and during migration they must cross international borders.All the nations that are party to the treaty banned the use of lead shots in wetland areas to avoid lead poisoning. The deal helped raise awareness on the international bird migration routes and the United Nations declared World Migratory Bird Day to aid in increasing public awareness.

Celebrating World Migratory Bird Day

Every year the United Nations provides a theme for official events commemorating the day. 118 nations around the world have held events to mark World Migratory Bird Day. Several events are held in these countries such as organizing exhibitions through which people learn about migratory birds. Bird watching is also popular all around the world with people hoping to catch a glimpse of migratory birds as they make their way through an area. Since various regions experience peak migrations at different times the best times to bird watch may differ according to the area. During the day organizations are encouraged to adopt sustainable business practices to ensure that bird species are not driven to extinction through the loss of their habitat. Companies are urged to be mindful on how they extract resources so as not to destroy the natural habitats.

Conservation of Migratory Birds

Migratory birds form an integral part of the global ecosystem and should be safeguarded from the risk of extinction. Several species of migratory birds are classified as critically endangered such as the Amsterdam Island Albatross and the Siberian Crane. Among the main threats that face migratory birds include the spread of diseases and the impact of human activities. Destruction of breeding sites reduces the number of places available for the birds to reproduce further risking their population. Various organizations such as the West African Bird Study Association work to conserve migratory birds by raising awareness among people. The organizations also work towards eliminating the threats that face the migratory birds.


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