World Migratory Bird Day 2018: Welcoming Our Birds “Home”

Birds like the Black-throated Blue Warbler travel thousands of miles to spend their winter in the Caribbean. Photo: Paul Reeves via BirdsCaribbean
Biodiversity

BirdsCaribbean media release — The month of October heralds a change in the seasons — even in the Caribbean. The days grow shorter and the fierce heat of the sun lessens. Countless birds journey to their winter homes in the Caribbean. For World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD), Caribbean island residents celebrate the birds that come here every year.

WMBD is usually celebrated in the Caribbean on the second Saturday in October (this year, that’s October 13). But 2017 was a tragic exception. “Last October, we weren’t able to celebrate WMBD,” says Executive Director of BirdsCaribbean Lisa Sorenson. “Hurricanes Irma and Maria had just hit numerous islands with terrifying force, and many of our partners were dealing with the damage. But now we are moving forward with great hope, as thousands of migratory birds return to our shores. We encourage our partners to celebrate progress made.”

In the Caribbean, about a third of the 500 regularly seen species of birds are summer or winter visitors. More than 30 events on 16 Caribbean islands are already lined up to celebrate these amazing birds. More than 80,000 residents and visitors will join in the activities, led by Environment for the Americas and BirdsCaribbean.

The 2018 theme for WMBD in the Caribbean is “Year of the Bird.” This not only celebrates birds 365 days of the year, with a special theme each month. It also commemorates a full century – 100 years of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the most powerful and significant bird protection law ever passed.

The “Year of the Bird” is also an opportunity to look at critical issues affecting our birds – including those embarking on the challenging migration journey – that were addressed throughout this special year. These topics can become impactful WMBD action projects. For example, September’s Year of the Bird theme highlights dangers for migrating birds – light pollution and glass windows. How can we make our homes more “bird-safe”?

To celebrate, local coordinators on each island will raise awareness about simple actions that people can take to help birds each and every day. “Planting trees for native birds, encouraging people to keep their cats indoors and informing people how to create a bird-friendly yard, are just a few ways people can help birds,” said Regional Coordinator, Sheylda Diaz-Mendez. Festival events will include birding walks, tree plantings, church services, media interviews, street parades, fairs, information booths, games, and drama and art competitions.

Visit migratorybirdday.org and birdscaribbean.org for ideas on how to celebrate and many free resources. Check out BirdsCaribbean on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information about the WMBD and to find events in your area, and see an event map on worldmigratorybirday.org and updates throughout the month.

[Image: Paul Reeves via Birds Caribbean]

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