Time to un-ruffle your feathers, folks, because May 10 is World Migratory Bird Day! At least four thousand different species of bird migrate, which adds up to about 40% of the entire avian population. And they all do it in pursuit of food. Twice every year, these birds will fly to warmer climates for the winters, and then return home to breed. As humans, I think we can all appreciate the value in following food all around the globe. So celebrate our feathered friends today!
Why We Love World Migratory Bird Day
A. Birds are amazing animals
When all is said and done, birds are miracles of evolution. They are close relatives of dinosaurs, they are the only creatures on the planet to grow feathers, and—of course—they can fly. That last one has caused birds to be the envy of humans for nearly the entire span of their mutual existence. Who wouldn’t like to spread their own wings and take to the skies?
B. Migration takes a huge amount of energy
Migration itself is a genetically controlled impulse. It’s a primitive trait that even emerges in birds that don’t necessarily have to migrate. The ability for birds to navigate and orient themselves during migration is an even more complex phenomenon. Not to mention, birds need to alter their metabolism in order to store enough energy to make the journey, and molt their feathers in preparation for the wear and tear of the long flight.
C. Migration also helps other species
The migration of birds helps control pest populations in whatever part of the world they happen to visit, and certain smaller species also aid in flower pollination, while the larger scavengers help to eliminate carrion waste. In addition, their droppings also provide rich nutrients which help plants to grow.
How to Celebrate World Migratory Bird Day
1. Go on a nature walk
Get in touch with your local ecosystem and see what birds frequent your area. See if you can spot which birds are native to the area, and which are visitors from far-off places. When the seasons chance, see if you can spot which species leave, and which ones arrive to take their place. For bonus points, you can keep a journal and see how things change from year to year.
2. Get involved with the Audubon Society
The Audubon Society is dedicated to the conservation, health, and welfare of all different kinds of birds. There are about 500 local chapters nationwide, and each one is fighting the battle to save the birds on several different fronts at once. Find the one nearest to you, and see how you can help our feathered friends thrive, whether by donating your money or your time.
3. Set up bird feeders
You could go and find nature, or you can bring nature to you. Putting feeders outside your house will attract all kinds of local birds looking for something to nosh. You can put out as many different kinds of food as you like—even sugar water for hummingbirds! Just make sure the local squirrels and cats don’t come along to spoil the fun.