International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD), now World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD), was created in 1993 by visionaries at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. From 1995 to 2006, the program was under the direction of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Because of its consistent growth, these organizations sought a new home for the program. In 2007, IMBD found its “forever home” at Environment for the Americas (EFTA), a non-profit organization that connects people to bird conservation through education and research.
Over the years, EFTA has made changes and improvements to International Migratory Bird Day. We developed the concept of a single conservation theme to help highlight one topic that is important to migratory bird conservation. These educational campaigns have been integrated into numerous programs and events, focusing on topics including the habitats birds need to survive, birds and the ecosystem services they provide, the impacts of climate change on birds, and the laws, acts, and conventions that protect birds, such as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Convention on Biodiversity.
We also removed a specific date from the event. Once celebrated only on the second Saturday in May, we recognize that migratory birds leave and arrive at breeding and non-breeding states at different times, depending on many factors. They also stop at different sites across the Western Hemisphere to rest and refuel, providing opportunities to engage the public in learning about birds and their conservation. Today, we maintain traditional event dates on the second Saturday in May and the second Saturday in October, while encouraging organizations and groups to host their activities when migratory birds are present.
In 2018, IMBD joined forces with the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) to create the global event World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) to unify our voices around the world for bird conservation.