Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day In Rocky Mountain National Park Or Mesa Verde National Park

Join birders in Rocky Mountain National Park on Saturday to mark International Migratory Bird Day. And keep an eye out for the colorful Western tanagers. NPS photo.

If you missed celebrating International Migratory Bird Day last month, you can make it up by heading to Rocky Mountain National Park on Saturday for a bird walk in the park.

While many parks celebrated International Migratory Bird Day in May, Rocky Mountain is marking the day this weekend with a walk with experienced bird watchers. The event gets under way Saturday at 8 a.m. at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center.

After a short introduction, visitors and bird walk leaders will caravan into the park to view birds in a variety of habitats. This guided walk will have naturalists and expert birders to help beginners identify birds; all ages and abilities are welcomed.

Suggested items for the morning’s activities include warm clothes, water, good walking shoes, binoculars and a snack, if desired. The event will end at noon, but visitors are encouraged to continue their birding adventures throughout the day.

Meanwhile, at Mesa Verde National Park, two highly rewarding science projects studying migratory birds are under way. The Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) project and a second park project managed through the Hummingbird Monitoring Network (HMN) are designed to help park managers and scientists understand population concerns and protection needs for nationally and internationally recognized migratory songbirds and hummingbirds, including the Rufous Hummingbird and several pinyon-juniper woodland songbirds such as the Plumbeous Vireo, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Virginia’s Warbler, Juniper Titmouse, Gray Flycatcher, and Ash-throated Flycatcher.

When most people think of Mesa Verde, the first thing that comes to mind typically is Southwest archeology. But did you know that Mesa Verde also has long been on the Audubon Society’s list of Colorado Important Bird Areas?

This national park provides breeding habitat for several bird species of conservation concern. In 1928, Congress called upon the National Park Service to protect Mesa Verde’s birds and other wildlife and the wooded habitats that support them. These and other park birds are part of Landbird Conservation Plans from the Partners in Flight Program, and are noted as international migratory birds of ‘Continental Importance.’ With this in mind, Mesa Verde has initiated these bird monitoring programs.

The Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship project involves the placement of several large mist-nets in the pinyon-juniper woodlands. During the early morning hours, from May through July, the nets are regularly checked and captured birds are carefully extracted from the nets, thoroughly measured and documented, and then banded with a sequentially numbered leg band before release.

The MAPS project will provide essential demographic information at the population level on a suite of migratory bird species shared with countries south of the U.S. border. This capture data is reinforced with substantial numbers of direct field surveys, called point-counts, performed by trained observers. This demographic information will provide park managers with science-based information essential to identifying prime sources of life-cycle problems for these species.

A second park project, managed through the Hummingbird Monitoring Network, captures, measures, and bands some of Mesa Verde’s breeding and migrating hummingbirds. These tiny bundles of feather and muscle return year after year to Mesa Verde, allowing park staff to track the numbers of returnees and gather other information.

The Rufous Hummingbird, a species shared with Canada and Central America, has seen a species-wide population decline of 63 percent since 1968. Falling bird populations in national parks and elsewhere likely indicate that habitat in tropical wintering grounds, along migration routes, on American breeding grounds, or all of these areas are in need of conservation attention.

By increasing knowledge about the park’s bird life, the Park Service hopes to ensure that Mesa Verde’s tropical connection is not broken.

International Migratory Bird Day is celebrated each spring across the United States and Canada. This special event recognizes the movement of nearly 350 species of birds from their wintering grounds in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean to nesting habitats in North America.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of IMDB with the theme of “Connecting People to Bird Conservation.” Created in 1993, this event is designed to increase public awareness and involvement in bird conservation. Birds are economically important and a priceless part of America’s natural heritage—and they are critical indicators of environmental health upon which we all depend. The event is now hosted at over 500 sites throughout the Western Hemisphere reaching hundreds of thousands of youth and adults.