World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD)


The annual World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) conservation theme is an important part of the program, providing you with specific messages and information about birds and their conservation. This theme is selected by a team of biologists and educators, with input from the general public and WMBD host organizations.

The accumulation of plastic and plastic pollution have become a worldwide epidemic and a primary threat to birds across the globe. An estimated 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic have been produced since its introduction in the 1950s. Only 9% of plastic waste has been recycled, and an estimated 79% of plastic waste accumulates in landfills or the natural environment (Geyer et al. 2017). Most of these plastics exist indefinitely, fragmenting into smaller and smaller pieces over time. As exposure to plastics increases, birds and their environments are facing increasingly detrimental consequences.

The 12 focal bird species selected for WMBD 2019 represent diverse groups of birds, the habitats they use, and their foraging behaviors. Despite their differences, each of these birds and their habitats have been impacted by plastic pollution. Reducing the use of plastic and cleaning up the waste that is currently contaminating our natural environments is essential to migratory bird conservation.

By making changes individually and within our communities, we can make a difference in the fight against plastic pollution! WMBD invites you to participate as a host site by using the theme to introduce your communities to the impacts of plastic on bird populations and the importance of adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle. We also encourage involvement in habitat restoration activities, such as trash cleanups, to improve the local environment and motivate participants to continue efforts that contribute to a plastic-free world.

The growing scourge of plastic pollution across our planet is affecting waterbirds in many ways. When ingested, it can lead to poisoning and even starvation. Plastic floating in the oceans, along rivers or stranded along our shorelines and in wetlands can cause injuries, impede mobility and cause birds to drown”, said Jacques Trouvilliez, Executive Secretary of AEWA. “Waterbirds are facing so many threats, everyone can do something to tackle this one

The international community needs to take urgent action to mitigate unnecessary injuries and mortality of migratory birds due to plastic pollution. Together we can help to curb the giant tide of plastic. World Migratory Bird Day 2019 is a unique chance to unite efforts in addressing this rapidly growing environmental problem.

Over 750 events − birdwatching hikes, festivals, movie screenings, talks and presentations − were organized in close to 80 countries across the globe to celebrate World Migratory Bird Day in 2018, including the first events registered from Bermuda, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada and Togo. This year, World Migratory Bird Day is hoping for an even greater success in terms of number of events and actions being taken by dedicated people around the world to spread the word to address the urgent threat of plastic pollution. Local teams in a number of countries around the world, for example, are organizing beach cleaning events to clear plastic from the shorelines as their World Migratory Bird Day contribution. We are calling for your support in sharing this important environmental message for a better future for birds and people on our interconnected planet.

The impact of plastic pollution has been addressed by CMS Resolution 12.20 on the management of marine debris adopted at CMS COP 12 in Manila in October 2017. The resolution aims at securing a significant reduction of marine pollution and more sustainable management of marine and coastal ecosystems.