International Migratory Bird Day is tomorrow, May 9th, and this year’s theme is “Restore Habitat, Restore Birds.” Across the world, habitat loss and degradation are the primary causes of bird population decline, and here at TLC protecting habitat is one of our primary aims.
Why is habitat so important for migratory birds? On the surface it may seem simple, but protecting habitat can be complicated, as different bird species require vastly different habitats at different times of the year. As the 2015 International Migratory Bird Day illustrates, to protect the iridescent Yellow Warbler we must conserve the mangroves; the Eastern Meadowlark depends on grasslands; while the Northern Pintail and Northern Harrier need wetlands.
Think your yard doesn’t count as habitat? Think again! While few bird species will thrive on lawn grass – American Robins being the notable exception – your gardens, shrubs, and trees can be a habitat bonanza. Instead of exotics, choose native plants that birds can rely on for food or nesting space. Avoid pesticides or herbicides that may harm the birds, and keep cats away. You can even have your yard certified by the National Wildlife Federation!
At TLC, a critical part of our mission is to protect natural habitats, as natural areas and well-managed forests support healthy ecosystems and balance our built environment by providing habitat for native plants and animals. Our preserves are great places for visitors to see migratory birds: Indigo Buntings and Common Yellowthroats thrive in the savannas and prairies of Horton Grove Nature Preserve, Hooded Warblers and tanagers live in the hardwood forests of Johnston Mill Nature Preserve, Wood Thrush and Black-and-white Warblers can be found in the higher elevation of Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve, and so much more.
There’s no better way to celebrate International Migratory Bird Day than by seeing a few birds for yourself! Consider visiting one of our preserves this weekend, but before you go, print out this Habitat Bingo card and try to complete as many squares as possible (this would be especially fun for kids, but we encourage adults to participate too). Let us know if you get a “BINGO” by emailing Diana ([email protected]) and we might just send you a little prize for participating!
The International Migratory Bird day website hosts a wealth of valuable information, including informational sheets, activities (like the Bingo game), presentations, and infographics. Click here to peruse all the 2015 IMBD resources. Happy birding!