Refuges Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day on May 10

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The annual International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD), held this year on May 10, celebrates the animal kingdom’s frequent fliers and the marvelous journey birds undertake between their summer and winter homes.  What better place to see some of the nearly 700 species of migratory birds than the hundreds of national wildlife refuges established solely to safeguard habitat for them.

The theme for IMBD this year is Tundra to Tropics: Connecting Birds, Habitats, and People.  Events held at national wildlife refuges, fish hatcheries and wetland management districts will celebrate not only the wondrous migration of birds, but also the habitat on which they depend, and the people and organizations who are so critically important to the conservation of birds and their habitats along the way.

Here is just a sampling of events taking place across the country on May 10:

DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, Iowa
Live raptors!  The refuges asks visitor to learn about our “feathered ambassadors” and get close-up views.  Raptor Recovery of Nebraska, Inc. will present a demonstration of live raptors.  The day will also feature field trips and activities for all ages.   

Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Rhode Island
A family focused event, the day includes bird walks, crafts, demonstrations and exhibits on bird migration and the conservation mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge and the Naples Zoo, Florida
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is sponsoring a host of activities during the day, including binocular loans, field trips, as well as free posters and prizes at the Naples Zoo.  

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia
This event will include bird walks, family-friendly activities, demonstrations and talks, a wildlife art show and tours of the historic Chincoteague Lighthouse.

National Bison Range, Montana
Bison on Bird Day?  The National Bison Range is hosting a celebration of migratory birds along with festivities to mark the refuge’s 100th birthday.  IMBD will include a variety of field trips, interpretive presentations, and other activities, including live birds and trivia contests. The main event will be the opening of Red Sleep Mountain Drive for the summer season.

Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, Minnesota
Celebrate the return of millions of migratory birds to their breeding areas with an early morning “Songbird Search” and “Birds of the Wetlands” guided programs.  Friends of Sherburne will hold their annual plant sale.

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico,
Beginning at 8 a.m., naturalists will lead a bird walk around the visitor center, including the arboretum, looking for such migratory birds as warblers, orioles and kingbirds.  From 2-4 p.m., a bus tour will take visitors to see migrating waterfowl and shorebirds.  The bus tour is limited to 24 people to ensure that everyone gets a seat.

Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, California
Among the newest of the nation?s 548 national wildlife refuges, Stone Lakes Refuge and its partners are offering a fun-filled festival featuring live wild animal presentations, guided and self-guided tours of wetlands and heron rookeries and more than 30 conservation exhibitors with hands-on activities. These include a puppet show, storytelling, live music, a petting farm (hosted by Future Farmers of America), falconry demonstrations, appearances by Ollie Otter and Blue Goose mascots, and an outdoor BBQ (hosted by Future Farmers of America and Rotary Club). This celebration offers a great opportunity to see wildlife areas usually closed to the public. 

Some national wildlife refuges are celebrating International Migratory Bird Day on dates other than May 10.  Here is a sampling of festivals throughout May:

Windom Wetland Management District, Minnesota
May 3
The Windom Wetland Management District, part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, manages 65 separate Waterfowl Production Areas.  To celebrate IMBD, the District is hosting “Wings Over the Prairie,” starting with guided bird walks at 6:30 a.m. Other activities include wood duck box construction, explorations of wetland critters, a bingo nature hike, wildlife survival game and “Discovery Quest” with the Prairie Ecology Bus Center.  See a premier display of the Federal Junior Duck Stamp exhibit of Minnesota, and release of North America’s largest waterfowl — the trumpeter swan. Friends of Windom Wetlands will host a bison burger lunch.

Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival, Virginia
May 11-13
Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is hosting the second annual Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival over Mother’s Day weekend.  This family-friendly event includes guided birds walks, narrated bur tours, owl prowls, bird banding, bluebird house building, and beginner bird walks for kids.

Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Delaware
May 17
The day will be filled with information, hands-on activities, exhibits, wildlife photography and art, boat rides and more.

Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconson
May 24
The day begins with a program on basic birding skills, followed by a guided birding trip on the refuge.

To learn more about IMBD, to see this year’s artwork and to learn about other events being held around the country, visit

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit


David Eisenhauer 703-358-2220