Year of the Bird: Year in Review: As 2018 closes, Year of the Bird commemorates Migratory Bird Treaty Act with 12 months of citizen science and storytelling

This year marked the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the most powerful and important bird-protection law ever passed. Over the last century, the law has saved millions, if not billions, of birds from depredatory human activities. In honor of this milestone, National Geographic joined forces with Audubon, Birdlife, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and hundreds of other partners to celebrate 2018 as the Year of the Bird. Throughout the year, we engaged existing birders around actions to help build a better world for birds, and we brought new birders into the fray.

Birds need our help now more than ever: The rate of extinctions appears to be increasing as a result of extensive habitat destruction, invasive species, collisions with human-made structures, predatory cats and pesticides. As of 2017, more than 1,460 global bird species were under threat of extinction and 222 species are critically endangered and on the brink of extinction.

Year of the Bird Actions by the Numbers

  • Birders around the world took 12 monthly actions to help build a better world for birds.

  • The Global Big Day, a 24-hour citizen science event, brought birders across the globe together to identify and document 7,027 bird species. Additionally, 30,392 people in 170 countries ventured outside and logged more than 1.6 million bird sightings.

  • The birding community came together once again in October for a second Global Big Day to identify and document more than 6,000 species.

  • National Geographic published dozens of articles on the status of birds.

Throughout the year, momentum grew with many around the world joining the Year of the Bird campaign. More than 180 U.S. and international organizations took part in the year-long celebration, including conservation NGOs, state and national parks, birding clubs and research institutions. Additionally, more than 55 states, legislatures, cities, counties and townships across the United States made Year of the Bird proclamations or declarations in 2018. These proclamations often underscored the importance of birds in local landscapes, or highlighted specific regions as vital habitats for birds, especially those serving as important stopover locations for migratory birds.

Thank you to everyone who has participated in the Year of the Bird campaign! We hope you continue engaging with us by participating in bird-related citizen science activities like the Global Big Day and continuing to support organizations like Audubon, Birdlife, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Geographic.

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