Officially, World Migratory Bird Day is celebrated on the second Saturday in May and October to recognize both the northward and southward migrations. Because birds do not migrate in a single day, we encourage events when they work best for organizers and the birds. Bird Day celebrations take place every month of the year!
The World Migratory Bird Day annual conservation theme is an opportunity to raise awareness of the threats that face birds and how we can help at home and in our communities.
International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) was created in 1993 by visionaries at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. From 1995 to 2006, the program was under the direction of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Because of its consistent growth, IMBD is now the premier education project of Environment for the Americas. In 2018, IMBD joined forces with the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) to create a global event, World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) that unifies our voices around the world for bird conservation.
WMBD continues to focus attention on one of the most important and spectacular events in the life of a migratory bird — its journey between its summer and winter homes. Today, it is celebrated in Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Central America through bird festivals and bird walks, education programs, and Bird Day! We invite you to join us in this important celebration.
WMBD officially takes place on the second Saturday in May each year. But we recognize that this date doesn’t work well for all bird event and bird festival organizers, or for the migratory birds themselves. To the south, migratory birds have left, heading for breeding sites to the north. Farther north, the birds haven’t arrived.
We remedied this problem by removing the month and day from our bird education and festival materials, leaving only the year, while reminding groups that “everyday is bird day.” Now, WMBD is celebrated almost year-round. Most U.S. and Canada events take place in April and May, while fall events are the norm in the Caribbean and Latin America.
Each year, a team of World Migratory Bird Day coordinators and sponsors work together to select a theme that meets diverse criteria to reach the varied audiences that celebrate WMBD. The theme must be conservation-based, current, positive, tangible, educational, and engaging. Once chosen, the theme becomes the focus of education materials and the art that is featured on the annual t-shirt and poster. We encourage you to take advantage of the theme by incorporating it into your programs and festivals.