Migratory birds are now flooding across the continent as they return to their nesting grounds this spring. World Migratory Bird Day is on Saturday, May 9, as people around the globe welcome birds back — and lend them a helping hand.
“This year’s theme is ‘Birds Connect Our World,’” said Susan Bonfield, executive director of Environment for the Americas, which coordinates the event. “The colorful birds returning to your neighborhood right now are connected to nature, places, and cultures all across the hemisphere where birds travel throughout the year.”
The number of birds coming back each year is decreasing as birds face mounting challenges across their journeys. The U.S. and Canada have lost nearly 3 billion birds since 1970, according to a study in Science last year.
There are many things you can do right from home to protect, celebrate, and enjoy birds. Here are some bird-friendly actions you can take on World Migratory Bird Day, and every day, to help bring birds back.
- Celebrate World Migratory Bird Day—Right at Home. Check out online events and storytelling for kids, and find out how scientists learn where birds go. Visit the World Migratory Bird Day website.
- Make a Bird-Friendly Place in Your Yard or Neighborhood. Provide shelter, nesting areas, and food for birds. You’ll be amazed by the birds and other wildlife you can attract with a few simple steps. Learn about native plants and other ideas from Audubon.
- Watch Birds Near Home and Share What You See. On May 9, participate in Global Big Day, and help set a record of 100,000 bird checklists submitted to eBird.org for use in science and conservation! Look out for the birds around your home, identify as many as you can, and share your list. Need help getting started? Download the free Merlin Bird ID app from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology or take the free eBird Essentials course.
- DIY Project: Make Your Windows Safer. Up to 1 billion birds are estimated to die each year after hitting windows in the United States and Canada. Get the kids involved in a simple home improvement project to save birds by breaking up window reflections using string, decals, or paint spaced no more than two inches high or two inches wide. See quick, affordable ideas from American Bird Conservancy.
- Enjoy Indoor Time with Your Cat. While outdoors, cats are estimated to kill more than 2.6 billion birds annually in the U.S. and Canada. Keeping your cat safe with quality time indoors also helps protect birds and other wildlife. American Bird Conservancy has solutions: See these six ways to keep your indoor cats happy.
- Have a Bird-Friendly Drink. Most coffee is grown in the sun, but shade-grown coffee preserves a forest canopy that helps migratory birds survive the winter, offers food and shelter for wildlife, and is economically and environmentally beneficial to farmers. Find out where to order Bird Friendly® coffee, certified by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center.
- Skip the Pesticides. More than 1 billion pounds of pesticides are applied in the United States each year. Avoiding pesticides around your home and in your food is a healthy choice for wildlife and your family. Find out which types of produce contain the most pesticides.
- Reduce and Reuse Your Plastics. It’s estimated that 4,900 million metric tons of plastic trash have accumulated worldwide. Plastic waste is so pervasive that microplastics can be found in drinking water, and trash in the ocean entangles birds or is mistaken for food. Try these eight ways to reduce your plastic waste.
Take one or more of these actions for birds on World Migratory Bird Day and keep it up. Watching birds is a relaxing and uplifting activity, and helping them out will ensure they will keep returning for years to come.