Opportunities to learn more about Washington's "part-time" birds will be available across the state on International Migratory Bird Day, May 12.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) biologists will be on hand at some of the events to help raise awareness about the peak of "neotropical" bird migrations and the special needs of species that spend part of their lives in North America.
Washington events scheduled on May 12 include:
- Spokane -- WDFW wildlife biologist Howard Ferguson is teaming up with Cravens Coffee, a local "bird-friendly" (shade-grown) coffee roaster, to lead an 8 a.m. bird-watching, coffee-drinking stroll along the Spokane River's Centennial Trail (more information: WDFW's Spokane regional office, 509-456-4082).
- Tukwila -- WDFW wildlife biologist Russell Link will be providing information about birds at a Backyard Wildlife Fair to showcase the community's efforts toward certification by the National Wildlife Federation as a Community Wildlife Habitat
- Kirkland -- East Lake Audubon Society chapter's Osprey Festival at Juanita Bay Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will offer information about other migratory birds, (more information: 425-827-2478)
- Seattle -- Bird talks and special activities will be available at the Seattle Aquarium from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.(more information: 206-386-4320); on May 19, Woodland Park Zoo's "Family Farm" will feature information about neotropical migratory birds from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (more information: 206-615-0076)
The second Saturday in May has been celebrated as International Migratory Bird Day for several years now. It was created by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's "Partners in Flight"program, a coalition of federal and state agencies, bird clubs, non-governmental organizations, corporations, and individuals interested in conserving migratory birds. Other events, including those at national wildlife refuges in the state and region, can be found at http://birds.fws.gov/imbd.html.
Many birds that winter in tropical countries of Central and South America spend their summers breeding in Washington or further north. These include colorful species not commonly seen like flycatchers, warblers, vireos, and tanagers, but also more "common" species like killdeer, Rufous hummingbird, yellow-headed blackbird, burrowing owl, and loggerhead shrike. Some of these international visitors migrate thousands of miles each year.
WDFW's Link and Ferguson, who coordinate the state's Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary program, note that bird enthusiasts can also help migratory birds in their own backyards.
"Even if some of these birds only stay in your area for a day or two," explains Ferguson, "providing water and natural food from your landscaping plants can help them regain strength to continue their journey to nesting habitat."
Link says that because these birds depend on habitat in both hemispheres, "it's important to think globally and act locally."