2018 just ended, and what a year it was! Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), the National Audubon Society, National Geographic, BirdLife International, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology all partnered to make 2018 the Year of the Bird by committing to protecting birds today and for the next hundred years. But as much as it was a celebration of the bedrock environmental statute for bird conservation, it was also a call to action to understand why birds matter, why it’s important to protect them, and why it’s important to protect the MBTA and other legislation that help enforce our conservation efforts.
Now that the Year of the Bird is over, let’s take a look back at each month’s action:
January: Take the Pledge
January was all about commitment. Committing to helping birds and protecting their habitats by taking the pledge to participate in a simple but meaningful action each month.
February: Join the Great Backyard Bird Count
In February, everyone was encouraged to join the Great Backyard Bird Count. Now in its 21st year, the GBBC is a citizen science project that asks individuals to count the birds in their backyard and share their observations. This helps scientists create a real-time snapshot of the birds of the world, and of course, more participants equals more data and a greater snapshot.
March: Native Plants
March means spring is just around the corner—it also means the migrants will be arriving soon. To welcome their arrival, March’s action focused on the importance of native plants. Landscaping with native species creates a vital recharging spot for birds passing through and a sanctuary to those who are nesting.
April: Learn More About the Migratory Bird Treaty Act
April was all about celebrating, saving, and speaking up for the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. For 100 years, the MBTA has saved countless birds from human threats—from hunting and poaching to oil pits and power lines. But now, it’s the MBTA that is being threatened. It’s important to learn about the act, its history, and how to show your support for a strong MBTA.
May: Join Global Big Day!
Big year. Big month. Big Day! In May, everyone was encouraged to participate in Cornell’s Global Big Day. Thanks to everyone’s commitment to the Year of the Bird, a new record was set at 6,925 bird species counted around the world in 24 hours. The Global Big Day helps track when birds show up where, helping scientists understand migration patterns better and develop useful conservation strategies.
June: Planet or Plastic?
June was all about plastic. By reducing the use of single-use plastics by limiting or removing plastic bags, straws, and bottles from your life while also making sure to recycle, you can lower your plastic footprint and help not only the birds but other wildlife and the Earth as well.
July: Take a Child into Nature
July was for the kids! With school out for summer, July was the perfect time to spark a lifelong passion for the beauty of nature and the wildlife it contains by sharing this gift with children.
August: Discover Your Parks
One of the best parts about birding is you can do it from almost anywhere. So in August, people were urged to explore the parks around them! From national parks to wildlife refuges to recreational trails and more, it’s important to take advantage of the resources around you and learn how to protect them for both humans and birds.
September: Three Ways You Can Help Migrating Birds This Fall
Billions of birds migrate each year and face myriad manmade dangers. So as birds were gearing up for their long trips south, September focused on making sure birds had the safest journey possible. From turning off your lights to making your windows bird-safe, it’s important to learn what you can do to help limit the threats to migrating species.
October: Make “Your” Birds a Part of the Next Global Big Day
Big Day Round 2! October means migration, so Cornell asked their community scientists to count birds again. Not quite as successful as May’s count, but October’s still counted 6,136 species in one day. That’s a lot of birds!
November: Capture the Beauty of Birds on Camera
November encouraged anyone with a camera to take up a photography assignment with National Geographic Your Shot to capture the simple beauty of birds. Whether you have professional gear or just a smartphone, photographing birds can not only enhance your photography skills but can also help deepen your appreciation (and others viewing your photos) for the beauty of all birds.
December: Share Your Love of Birds This Holiday Season
December is the month of giving, and what better gift than the joy of birds? Spread your love of birds to your friends and family by going birding together, buying them some bird-related gifts, or sharing your birding stories and photos.
The Year of the Bird may be over, but that doesn’t mean the work is done. The efforts of the Year of the Bird were to raise awareness of the amazing things being done in the name of bird conservation across the globe as well as the simple, actionable efforts in which individuals and communities can participate to do their part. Concern about nature is not a partisan issue. Birds can’t save their own habitats. So it’s up to humans to understand their impact on their surroundings and actively work to limit the damage and preserve the world we live in. Protecting the birds is important, which makes protecting the Migratory Birds Treaty Act that works to protect the birds equally important.
Thanks to all who participated in the Year of the Bird; let’s work to make 2019 another year for the birds!