Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Nebraska Migratory Bird Month!

Imagine for a minute that you want to travel from your winter house in Costa Rica to your summer home in Lincoln, Nebraska. You will need your passport, a travel bag of clothes and most importantly a ticket for an airline flight. Now imagine that you are a Ruby-throated Hummingbird and you want to make the same journey. You would not need a passport or travel bag and you most certainly would not get the luxury of an airline flight. You would have to make the over 5,000 mile flight on your own. And while this is a feat in itself, remember that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds weigh about as much as a large grape. 

In 1993, International Migratory Bird Day was started to celebrate birds and bird migration. This bird celebration is celebrated around the world on the second Saturday of May. Realizing that birds are critical to Nebraska’s ecosystems and economy, it was decided that Nebraska would create a month-long celebration of birds, bird watching and bird migration.

Please join Nebraska’s conservation and natural resource organizations from across the state in celebrating birds throughout the month of May.
A complete list of events can be found on the
Nebraska International Migratory Bird Month website
You can find events by location or date.

Many events are free and are a great chance for individuals, families and Nebraska citizens of all ages to learn about birds and bird conservation.
Plus, it is a great chance to get outside and enjoy nature and Nebraska’s natural legacy!

Bird migration is often a misunderstood natural phenomenon. Birds of all sizes migrate from their wintering locations in the south to their breeding grounds in the north. This incredible journey includes all kinds of hazards including predators, navigating through urban areas, finding adequate resting spots and of course finding enough food to fuel your journey. So with all these hazards, why do birds migrate? The answer comes down to two things: food and breeding grounds. We have plenty of food in Nebraska throughout the summer months, but during the winter we have few berries, insects or open water – all sources of food for may bird species. Birds migrate south for the winter in order to have enough food. When spring comes birds begin thinking about breeding. Yet there is not enough room for all the birds that have congregated in the south to breed. Birds migrate back north for the summer months in an effort to have more room to mate and raise their young. Bird migration is a dangerous endeavor and many birds do not survive the trip.

Public awareness and action are crucial components of migratory bird conservation. Citizens who are enthusiastic about birds, informed about threats, and empowered to become involved in addressing those threats, can make a tremendous contribution to maintaining healthy bird populations. Through Nebraska International Migratory Bird Month events, Nebraskans will be educated, inspired and empowered to conserve and protect our bird populations.

But, International Migratory Bird Day is more than just a celebration of birds. It is a chance for our state to recognize the importance of outdoor recreation and tourism – the third largest industry in Nebraska. Outdoor recreation – including bird watching – provides Nebraska’s economy with a huge boost. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Division of Economics, nearly $722 million is spent annually on wildlife watching travel & equipment in Nebraska. Additionally, outdoor recreation provides 74,000 direct jobs across the state. 

Additionally, birds are a vital part of every ecosystem. Birds play a role in seed dispersal, pollination, and insect control. Furthermore, birds are an integral part of every food web as both predators and prey. Without birds, many ecosystem functions would fail.

Nebraska plays a critical role on an International scale for migratory birds that have no boundaries or borders. Nebraska is the site of a significant migratory pathway – the Central Flyway. This flyway is critical for hundreds of thousands of birds including Sandhill Cranes, Canada and Snow Geese, Sandpipers, and numerous other species of waterfowl. It is our responsibility, as a part of the global community, to make certain these birds have the habitats they require.

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