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World Migratory Bird Day and other birding events in May 2019

American Avocet assisted by a strong tailwind. Photo by David Mundy

It’s May 1, and spring migration is well underway across North America. We hope you spot lots of warblers, hummingbirds, tanagers, shorebirds, swallows, swifts, and other great birds in the coming weeks. Of course, North America’s birding and conservation community offers many ways for birdwatchers to get involved and take part in fun events throughout the spring season. Here is a rundown: 

Birding festivals

In the March/April issue of BirdWatching, we published a roundup of more than 85 birding festivals taking place this spring and summer. May is by far the busiest month on the festival calendar, with more than 40 events on our list. The schedule includes the Festival of Birds at Point Pelee National Park, the Biggest Week in American Birding in Ohio, the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival in Utah, and many more. You can download a free PDF listing of all of the events here on our site. The guide includes each festival’s dates, location, and web address.

Global Big Day, May 4

This Saturday, more than 30,000 people are expected to take part in Global Big Day, a free event that is looking to set a world record for the greatest number of bird species seen in a single day. Last year, participants from 171 countries around the world reported 7,025 bird species.

Participation is easy: Go to to set up a free account. Watch birds on May 4, then enter your list at eBird. Watch in real-time as sightings from the world’s birders roll in. You can also pledge to support the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Team Sapsucker. Its members will be birding from midnight to midnight in Alabama, Florida, and Texas for the event; they hope to see 225 species and raise $575,000. 


World Series of Birding, May 11

Our country’s largest and most prestigious birding event, the World Series of Birding, is set for Saturday, May 11, throughout New Jersey. The Finish Line festivities will take place at the Grand Hotel in Cape May until midnight, and the awards banquet will be held at 9 a.m. Sunday morning. The event’s goal is to raise $250,000 for New Jersey Audubon.

World Migratory Bird Day, May 11

Organized by the group Environment for the Americas, World Migratory Bird Day is an annual celebration and awareness-raising campaign to inspire people and organizations around the world to take measures for the conservation of birds. This year’s theme − “Protect Birds: Be the Solution to Plastic Pollution!” − will put the spotlight on the negative impact of plastic pollution on migratory birds and their habitats. Hundreds of local WMBD events are slated at parks, refuges, nature centers, and during birding festivals. Find one near you. And you can go the next step by raising awareness for WMBD by displaying the 2019 poster, and you can organize a plastics cleanup by ordering a cleanup kit for a family or a group.

Great Texas Birding Classic, through May 15

The Great Texas Birding Classic kicked off on April 15 and continues through May 15. It’s the longest and most ambitious birding tournament in the U.S., and if you’re in Texas, you can still get in on the fun. (If you register a team now, you’ll have to pay a late fee.) No fewer than 136 teams are taking part in this year’s Classic. Since the first tournament in 1997, team registration fees and sponsorship dollars have contributed $954,000 to avian habitat conservation in Texas.


Endangered Species Day, May 17

Organized by the Endangered Species Coalition, Endangered Species Day helps raise awareness about birds and other animals and plants that are threatened with extinction. You can find events that mark the day here, and if you are able to host an event, click here for materials for Endangered Species Day events and activities, a step-by-step guide to planning an event, sample lesson plans, and other materials to make your event fun and successful.

Help birds by cleaning up trash

Enter our photo contest, the 2019 BirdWatching Photography Awards


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