Today is World Migratory Bird Day, where we celebrate the perilous, fantastic, and awe-inspiring feat of avian migration! For those of us at Wildlife Preservation Canada, spring is a time for celebration; migratory birds like the eastern loggerhead shrike are returning to their breeding grounds, some having traveled hundreds of kilometres from their overwintering habitats in the South.

With a majority of their diet consisting of insects, loggerhead shrikes will follow where food is available and abundant, which often means having to travel south for the winter. They return to their breeding grounds in the spring, where they rely on open pasture with scattered shrubbery to build their nests and hunt for food.

A piece of plastic looking deceivingly like an inchworm, impaled by a loggerhead shrike. Photo courtesy of Michelle Reynolds

The theme of this year’s World Migratory Bird Day is “Protect Birds: Be the Solution to Plastic Pollution!”, which highlights the negative effects of plastic on migratory bird populations and their habitats. Plastic in the environment negatively impacts many migratory birds around the world, including loggerhead shrikes. Shrikes have been found using plastic materials to line their nests- often resulting in entangled young. Shrikes have also been found mistaking plastic as food, leading to accidental ingestion.

Luckily for us, there are many ways to help migratory birds like loggerhead shrikes avoid the perils of plastic in the environment, so that we can continue to marvel at their incredible migratory journeys. To learn more on how to keep plastic away from shrikes, visit the World Migratory Bird Day website.

Photo courtesy of Larry Kirtley