Celebrate Migratory Birds at Cape Perpetua
Everyday is bird daySusan Bonfield, Environment for the Americas
A simple statement made by one of EFTA’s own coordinators when we told her about our World Migratory Bird Day event happening a week after the traditional celebration date. Simple but effective. Because what a way to think about every day that now follows this one. If every day is bird day, then everyday we have a chance to do something to protect the birds on this planet. Every day is important when it comes to how we can do something for our birds.
This weekend we celebrated World Migratory Bird Day at Cape Perpetua. World Migratory Bird Day is a day celebrated around the world to help us raise awareness for the conservation of our migratory birds. Migratory birds face numerous threats on their journeys to and from their breeding sites, so it is crucial to inform people globally so that we can reduce the hazards they will encounter along the way. World Migratory Bird Day is celebrated in May for the northern hemisphere, and again in September for the southern hemisphere. Although it is celebrated all across the world and at different times, we all share one theme for the year. This year’s theme is, “Protect Birds: Be the Solution to Plastic Pollution!” Our poster was designed by Cuban artist, Arnaldo Toledo, and features some of the more threatened species. Our theme was to highlight our efforts to reduce our plastic use, and in turn, save birds and their habitats. Plastic that gets discarded makes its way into the environment, where it is then broken down by the elements into smaller and smaller ‘microplastics.’ Ingestion and entanglement are the major causes of harm done to birds by these plastics. The plastics from fishing lines entangle and trap the birds. Or they starve on a full stomach of small plastic items. Although plastic is everywhere, managing plastic waste is one way we can move towards our plastic affecting birds and the environment.
Cape Perpetua’s Migratory Birds Day featured a number of interactive activities and art & crafts to go along with our information and education booth. We were fortunate enough to have the help of our other EFTA intern Robert for our WMBD event. He came all the way down from his site up to help us out on such an important day. You can read all about his work being done up at Yaquina Head here. In line with the theme for this year, he brought with him a game for visitors to identify whether they should ‘take or leave’ the stuff that was ‘natural or plastic.’ If it is plastic, we want to take it from the beach, but if it is natural we can leave it for marine animals to use. They developed the game up at Yaquina Head as a way to show beachgoers the different objects that wash up on the shore, and show how identifying plastics may not be as easy as you think. The game was one of the most popular of the booths because it was engaging and gave the visitors a chance to test their knowledge. I hope to develop something similar with materials found on our beaches, to use here at the Cape for our summer programs.
Our newest Student Conservation Association intern to arrive, Darielle, helped with an interactive bird beak adaptation game. At her booth, we had ‘beaks’ of different shapes and sizes and different sources of food that birds eat. The object of the game was to test how a bird’s beak develops to best fit its environment. In order to engage the guests, she would ask what they thought about each beak type and what food they thought this type of bird would eat. Although it seemed to be a game for children, the adults actually had a fun time testing their skills at getting their food. They asked her questions about the types of beaks and what the objects they were using represented. We also set out some models of bird skulls so visitors could see the difference in skull size and beak shape and size for different types of birds. We also had one of our lovely volunteers this summer, Saralynn, in charge of our arts & crafts table. We put out coloring pages of 4 of the birds from our poster, the common tern, the osprey, the killdeer, and the belted kingfisher, for anyone to color at the table or take home with them. We also had fun birds masks for kids to color and decorate with feathers. The kids who came by showed us their masks and shared what type of bird they wanted to be, excited that they could become one of our colorful feathered friends.
With the help of our volunteers and interns, we were able to execute a successful Migratory Bird Day! We had a great turnout for such a rainy day. Events like these are an important way to share information with others in hopes of inspiring them to take action. I hope each of the visitors left with some new information and a new outlook on how they can help protect birds in their everyday. Hopefully, all of you reading will now see every day as bird day, and think about what small things you can do to help our birds. We’ll see what steps you all take in the next week to be the solution.