U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Southeast Region News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE              Vicki M. Boatwright or

May 6, 1996                        Diana M. Hawkins 



Bird watchers of every feather will celebrate the return of millions of songbirds and other migrating birds at events across the country marking the fifth annual International Migratory Bird Day on May 11.

The celebration will include hundreds of seminars, bird walks, art contests, banding demonstrations, forest and wetland tours, and other events at national wildlife refuges, bird sanctuaries, parks, and other outdoor venues. Every state has at least one event.

"The spring migration of more than 340 species of birds from their wintering grounds in South America and the Caribbean is an awesome spectacle of nature," said Mollie Beattie, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "International Migratory Bird Day is a celebration of this spectacle but it also is a day to let people know that populations of many of these cherished species are in decline."

With 65 million participants, bird watching is one of America's most popular hobbies. Bird watchers also spend more than $5 billion a year on everything from birdseed to birding trips, according to a 1995 study commissioned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This spending supports tens of thousands of jobs across the country.

But even as bird watching has grown in popularity, many songbird populations have declined sharply in recent years. These include species such as the Kirtland's warbler, the black-capped vireo, the cerulean warbler, and the mountain plover. Some species are declining as fast as 2 percent to 4 percent a year.

Biologists say loss of habitat throughout North and South America is the primary cause of these declines, although birds face many other threats including poisoning from pesticides.

International Migratory Bird Day is a featured event of "Partners in Flight," an international coalition organized by the nonprofit National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and dedicated to reversing declines of migratory bird populations.

The coalition includes 16 Federal agencies; 60 state and provincial fish and wildlife agencies; and 60 non-governmental organizations including conservation groups, philanthropic foundations, and academic, professional, and industry groups.

A week of festivities leading up to International Migratory Bird Day will be kicked off at a ceremony at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, May 6, sponsored by Busch Gardens and Phillips Petroleum Corporation. At the event, the first-ever national strategy to conserve songbirds and other non-game migratory birds will be unveiled.

"All the events underscore two fundamental truths: Americans have an unmatched love of migratory birds and many of these birds need our help now if future generations are going to be able to enjoy them," said Amos S. Eno, executive director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

For information on events in your area, contact either Susan Carlson of the Service's migratory bird management office at 703-358-2318 or Krishna Roy of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation at 202-857-0166. You can also learn more about International Migratory Bird Day and Partners in Flight at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's web site (http://www.nfwf.org).

X X X Release #96-26

1996 News Releases

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