The United Nations (UN)-backed biannual campaign World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is celebrated across the globe on 2 peak days of a year, 2nd Saturday of May (In the spring) and October (in the fall).
- It is a day to raise awareness about the importance of migratory birds, their ecological importance, and the need for international cooperation to protect them and their habitats.
WMBD 2023 falls on the 13th of May and the 14th of October 2023.
- WMBD 2022 was observed on the 14th of May and 8th of October 2022 and the WMBD 2024 will be observed on the 11th of May and 12th of October 2024.
The theme/Campaign Slogan of WMBD 2023 is, “Water: Sustaining Bird Life“.
- WMBD 2023 campaign focused on Water and its importance to migratory birds, and the increasing threats to both water quality and quantity.
The annual observance of the WMBD is led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the leading global authority on the environment in the UN system.
The observance of WMBD on the:
- 2nd Saturday of May is officially celebrated in Canada and the United States of America (USA).
- 2nd Saturday of October is officially celebrated in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
i.The annual WMBD campaign is a joint effort of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), Environment for the Americas (EFTA), and the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP).
- EAAFP was announced as an official partner of the WMBD campaign during the 11th Meeting of Partners (MOP11) of the EAAFP held in Brisbane, Australia in March 2023.
- EAAFP will strengthen engagement and awareness for migratory birds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.
i.International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD), now World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD), was originally created in 1993 by visionaries at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, USA.
ii.From 1995 to 2006, the WMBD program was under the direction of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
iii.In 2006, WMBD was jointly initiated by the 2 UN Wildlife treaties, the Secretariat of the Agreement on the Conservation of AEWA, and CMS, and in 2007, WMBD also joined forces with EFTA.
iv.On the occasion of its 10th anniversary in 2005, the AEWA Secretariat initiated the Migratory Waterbird Days (MWD) which were held in Africa, Europe, and parts of Asia.
v.The first-ever WMBD was launched by AEWA and CMS on the weekend of 8-9 April 2006 on the wildlife reserve ‘Ole Ari Nyiro’ in Laikipia, Kenya.
Why in May and October?
The Day celebrated biannually on the 2nd Saturday in May and in October reflecting the cyclical nature of bird migration with varying peak migration periods in the northern and southern hemispheres.
Significance of Water with the Migratory Birds:
i.The vast majority of migratory birds rely on aquatic ecosystems during their life cycles.
ii.Inland and coastal wetlands, rivers, lakes, etc are all vital for feeding, drinking, or nesting, and also as places to rest and refuel during their long journeys.
iii.The increasing human demand for water, as well as pollution and climate change, are having a direct impact on the availability of clean water and the conservation status of many migratory birds
i.One of Africa’s largest water bodies in 1960, Lake Chad, a Ramsar site has experienced a drastic reduction of 90% in its area, adversely affecting not only local communities but also disrupting the ecosystem for migratory birds.
ii.The Amur-Heilong Basin in Asia is struggling with climate change-induced habitat destruction, leaving migratory birds without crucial breeding and stopover locations, amplifying the challenges they face.
iii.Prolonged drought conditions in the USA have resulted in the dehydration of wetlands, notably at sites like Cheyenne Bottoms in Kansas, impacting the migration of various bird species, especially shorebirds.
iv.48% of the world’s existing bird species are experiencing population declines, underscoring the urgency of addressing the issue of water scarcity and its impact on these vulnerable creatures.
The UNEP/CMS, EFTA, AEWA, and EAAFP organised a series of webinars to mark the WMBD 2023 on October 14th, 2023 entitled “Water: Sustaining Bird Life.”