The Birds of World Migratory Bird Day 2022

Eleven species have been selected to serve as ambassadors for this year’s conservation messages about the impact of light pollution on migratory birds. These are the birds that appear on our World Migratory Bird Day 2022 poster and other items. Learn more about each species below. Original art by Omar Custodio Azabache

Ruddy Duck

Oxyura jamaicensis


Length: 15.4” (39cm)

Wingspan: 18.5” (47cm)

Weight: 1.2lb (560g)


This is a small and compact diving duck with a long tail that is often raised. You may find it in marshes or other watery places feasting on aquatic insects and plants. Ruddy Duck reminds us that songbirds are not the only species impacted by light pollution; some waterfowl and shorebirds also migrate at night and are susceptible to collisions and other dangers when pulled off course by artificial lights.




Conservation Status: Least Concern

Markham’s Storm-Petrel

Hydrobates markhami


Length: 8.9” (22.6cm)

Wingspan: 6.7” (17cm)

Weight: 1.9oz (53.1g)


This dark seabird spends much of its life off the Pacific Coast of South America. It feeds on fish, shrimp, and other aquatic animals. Markham’s Storm-Petrel is in serious trouble largely because of light pollution that disorients tens of thousands of newly fledged birds every year, resulting in deadly collisions.


Conservation Status: Near Threatened

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Nycticorax nycticorax


Length: 24.8” (63cm)

Wingspan: 44” (112cm)

Weight: 1.8lb (820g)


This stocky heron is found in wetlands throughout much of the world. It prefers to hunt under the cover of darkness to avoid competition from other herons, but artificial light reflecting off the waters can make it difficult for this species to locate prey.



Conservation Status: Low Concern

Lesser Yellowlegs

Tringa flavipes


Length: 10.2” (25.9cm)

Wingspan: 24” (61cm)

Weight: 2.9oz (82g)


This slender shorebird breeds in meadows and open woodlands but can be found in a wide variety of wetlands during migration and winter. Its preferred foods include insects, snails, and small fish. Lesser Yellowlegs is a long-distance migrant that usually travels at night and relies on dark skies to navigate safely.



Conservation Status: Low Concern

Dark-billed Cuckoo

Coccyzus melacoryphus


Length: 10.6” (27cm)

Wingspan: 14.8” (37.6cm)

Weight: 1.8oz (50g)


This is a slender bird with a slightly curved black bill and a long tail. You may find it in forests foraging for caterpillars and other insect prey. Dark-billed Cuckoo is an example of an austral migrant that breeds in temperate areas of South America and migrates north for the southern winter.



Conservation Status: Least Concern

Burrowing Owl

Athene cunicularia


Length: 9.3” (23.6cm)

Wingspan: 20.9” (53cm)

Weight: 5.8oz (164g)


This long-legged owl prefers grasslands and other open places where it hunts on the ground for large insects and small mammals. Most owls are nocturnal (active at night), but the Burrowing Owl is mostly diurnal (active during the day). Studies suggest that artificial light at night is causing some diurnal birds to remain active into the night, disrupting natural behaviors.



Conservation Status: Low Concern

Swainson’s Thrush

Catharus ustulatus


Length: 6.9” (17.5cm)

Wingspan: 11.8” (30cm)

Weight: 1.1oz (31g)


This brownish forest bird sings a beautiful flute-like song, mostly during the nesting season. It prefers to forage on or near the ground for insects and berries. Swainson’s Thrush is a Neotropical migrant, meaning it spends the summer in temperate areas of the United States and Canada and migrates south to tropical areas for the winter.



Conservation Status: Low Concern

Magnolia Warbler

Setophaga magnolia


Length: 4.9” (12.4cm)

Wingspan: 7.5” (19.1cm)

Weight: 0.3oz (8.5g)


This beautiful bird breeds in coniferous forests but can be found in a variety of places during winter and migration. Its diet consists of insects and spiders and sometimes fruit. Like a lot of other songbirds, this warbler migrates at night and needs a dark sky to safely navigate between its breeding and non-breeding grounds.


Conservation Status: Low Concern

Wilson’s Warbler

Cardellina pusilla


Length: 4.7” (11.9cm)

Wingspan: 7” (17.8cm)

Weight: 0.3oz (8.5g)


This small yellow bird prefers thickets and shrubby areas where it eats insects and spiders. You may sometimes see it sally (fly out and back) to snatch flying insects from the air. Artificial light attracts and disorients migratory birds like the Wilson’s Warbler, pulling them off course and making them more likely to land in dangerous areas.


Conservation Status: Steep Decline

Western Tanager

Piranga ludoviciana


Length: 7.2” (18.3cm)

Wingspan: 11.5” (29.2cm)

Weight: 1oz (28g)


This strikingly colored bird prefers
woodlands where it eats mostly insects during spring and summer and a lot of
fruit during fall and winter. Listen for the male’s loud song on the breeding
grounds. Western Tanager migrates at night from southern wintering areas in
Middle America to breeding grounds in western Canada and the United States. It
returns to the tropics in the fall.



Conservation Status: Low Concern

Baltimore Oriole

Icterus galbula


Length: 8.3” (21.1cm)

Wingspan: 11.5” (29.2cm)

Weight: 1.2oz (34g)


You may find this colorful member of the blackbird family in open woodlands, parks, or even your backyard. It eats a lot of insects, especially caterpillars, as well as fruit and nectar. Baltimore Orioles and many other songbirds need dark skies to safely migrate—you can help by reducing the amount of light outside your home at night.


Conservation Status: Low Concern