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Guelph Bird Day is back and ready to fly

Guelph Bird Day is Saturday, May 11, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the University of Guelph Arboretum Centre
A red-tailed hawk fluffing its feathers at Guelph Bird Day 2023.

Guelph Bird Day is flying to the Arboretum this May.

The free event will be hosted Saturday, May 11, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the University of Guelph Arboretum Centre.

Guelph Bird Day is being celebrated the same day as World Migratory Bird Day. The theme this year is insects because insects are a vital source of food for birds.

At the event there will be guided bird walks, crafts and activities. Wild Birds Unlimited, Nature Guelph, U of G Sustainability Office, U of G Biodiversity Inventory, and OPIRG Guelph will all be tabling.

“It's a great time to be birding in Guelph because a lot of the migrant birds are coming back,” said Sarah Mueller, coordinator of Guelph Bird Day.

Birds like warblers, orioles, and sparrows can be seen around the city.

There will be a couple pairs of binoculars available but people are encouraged to bring their own if they have some.

Guelph Bird Day started three years ago initially as part of the Bird Friendly City certification. One of the requirements is to celebrate World Migratory Bird Day.

Mueller thinks the event is important because it raises awareness about the conservation issues birds face. She hopes it will get people interested and excited about birds. It's an opportunity for people to take a look around them and see birds they may have never known existed. 

The event’s logo features a barn swallow “which is what we call an aerial insectivore that flies around and catches bugs kind of in mid air,” said Mueller.

These groups of birds are threatened partly because insect populations globally are collapsing due to pesticide use and habitat loss. Birds need a food source especially during migration.

“Having healthy insect populations are also really important for having healthy bird populations,” she said.

With the abnormally warm days Guelph has been having recently it’s too difficult to tell if it has impacted bird migration. On a larger scale overtime climate change can shift bird migration periods. 

“But then there's also a potential issue where maybe birds can't shift their migration fast enough to kind of line up with spring and the abundant food that they need to migrate. It might not line up with their breeding time too,” said Mueller.

Things people can do to help birds is to plant more native species of plants in their yards. Bird proofing windows and keeping outdoor cats on leashes can help too.

Mueller hopes Guelph Bird Day can garner a greater appreciation of birds from people and that they learn something new.