By Jason Loy, Animal Keeper at Oakland Zoo
Have you ever looked up in the sky, seen a flock of birds flying overhead and wondered where they were going? Perhaps they were headed south for the winter and to warmer climates, flying northward in the spring, preparing to find a mate, or merely looking for the day’s meal. Whatever the case may be, witnessing a flock of birds soaring by is always a sight to behold and there is no better day to celebrate this fact then on International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD).
Based around the second Saturday of May each year (this year it will take place on the 8th), IMBD is a celebration across the Americas of the nearly 350 migratory bird species that grace our skies and the conservation efforts that support them. Since its creation in 1993 by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, IMBD continues to grow with an estimated 500 reported events occurring in 2007 and hundreds of thousands of people participating nationwide. Organized currently by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Division of Migratory Bird Management, this day consists of all of the different activities and ways birds are observed and cherished. Everything from bird walks and counts, fairs and festivals put on by local organizations, photo contests, kids games, habitat restoration projects and cleanups, and live music and performances can be considered as a part of the celebration.
Each year has a different theme for IMBD and the theme for this year is “The Power of Partnerships”, which highlights the partnerships that allow bird conservation programs to be successful. For example, the Oakland Zoo partners with bird-friendly organizations like the American Bird Conservancy and the Ventana Wildlife Society, which do great work and research to make the lives of birds better.
The Oakland Zoo is also a great place to view different native and migrating birds. Not only does the zoo have quite a number of different species, there were also an estimated 47 different wild species seen within the zoo grounds and surrounding areas during last year’s Christmas Bird Count. With everything from hawks and turkeys to hummingbirds and warblers, the Oakland Zoo continues to be an excellent habitat for birds.
For more information and to find other events near you, head to http://www.fws.gov/birds/imbd/ online, or check out one of the other links below.