2018 Is the Year of the Bird

Painted Bunting. Photo: Zachary Webster/Audubon Photography Awards

Join the National Audubon Society, National Geographic, BirdLife International, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in a yearlong celebration of birds.


Help build a better world for birds by taking a simple but meaningful action each month.
Count Me In

We never need a reason to celebrate birds here at Audubon, but in 2018 we’re making an especially big deal of them. That’s because not only is it the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA)—a pivotal piece of legislation that continues to save countless birds’ lives—but birds are also facing many new and serious threats, including attacks on the MBTA itself. And so it’s with great excitement that we’ve teamed up with National Geographic, BirdLife International, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to officially make 2018 the Year of the Bird.

What exactly is Year of the Bird? Good question! Throughout the year, all of us partners, along with more than 150 other participating organizations, are celebrating birds across all of our channels—magazines, television, social media, and more. To make Year of the Bird a true success, though, we need you. Each month we’re asking people to take simple actions that will help birds, so make sure you get our monthly action newsletters by clicking the "count me in" link above. You can find out more ways to #birdyourworld over at the official Year of the Bird website, but you’ll also want to keep checking back here, at Audubon.org, to find new Year of the Bird-related stories every month. 

December's Monthly Action: Share Your Love of Birds This Holiday Season 

(To see the previous month's featured Year of the Bird action and stories, scroll down.) 

It might be hard to believe, but it's true: The Year of the Bird is almost over! For our last monthly action, we're asking all participants to help spread the joy of birds to others in their lives. After all, though the Year of the Bird might be ending, the work of helping birds and raising awareness about their troubles is never over. And so this holiday season, consider sharing your love of birds with someone else in your life. That could mean going for a bird walk together, posting some of your favorite photos online, or yes, even buying people in your life some bird-related gifts. For this last one, check out our 2018 Audubon Gift Guide and other birdy gift ideas below. And as always, be sure to visit the official Year of the Bird website to see this month's other featured posts.  

Photo: iStock

November's Monthly Action:  Capture the Beauty of Birds on Camera 

Whether you own professional gear or just like snapping shots with your smartphone, photography is a great way to further your appreciation for birds and share their beauty with the rest of the world. That's why this month we are asking you to go on assignment with National Geographic Your Shot, a community where amateur photographers can submit their photos and get expert feedback. Anyone can participate, so head on over to the official Year of the Bird page to find out more. While you're there, check out this month's featured posts from our partners. And before you head out in the field, make sure to peruse Audubon's handy tips and how-tos on bird photography below. 

October's Monthly Action: Participate in Cornell's Global Big Day 

Fall is officially here, and you know what that means: migration! (If you said pumpkin-spiced lattes, we'll give you a pass.) As in spring, billions of birds are currently on the move, but this time they are heading south to their wintering grounds. As with May's Year of the Bird action, this month were asking you to put on your community-scientist hat by participating in Cornell's Global Big Day on October 6th. On this day, you can contribute to a worldwide conservation project by logging all the birds you see in a 24-hour period. For more on how to get involved, visit Cornell's Big Day website. And before you head out for your big day or to do any fall birding this month, be sure to download our new-and-improved free Audubon bird guide app. For more identification tips, you can also see this month's featured post below, which helps you learn the fall and winter plumage of five common birds. 

September's Featured Action: Help Birds Have a Safe Migration 

Each year, billions of birds migrate north in the spring and south in the fall. Along the way, though, they now face all sorts of man-made challenges. Whether it be from endless expanses of concrete to invisible windows and confusing artificial lights, the number of migrating birds that die every year is estimated to be as many as 1 billion. But it doesn't have to be this way. Making windows bird-safe, turning off your lights, planting native plants, encouraging bird-friendly architecture in your community—these are all ways you can help birds have a safer migration. So for September, our Year of the Bird ask is to do everything you can to help birds have a safe migration this fall. You can read more about how to do this and how lights and windows pose dangers to migrating birds in our featured posts below. 

August's Featured Action: Discover Your National Parks 

417! That's how many sites across the U.S. the National Park Service manages. Collectively called our national park system, these protected places range from important historical and cultural sites to some of the country's most stunning and important habitat. And yet, many people have only visited a handful of these parks, and oftentimes they are the most famous ones: Acadia, Yellowstone, Zion, to name a few. That's why this month our Year of the Bird action is to get out there and discover your national parks—go explore new ones, or just revisit some of your favorites. Whatever you do, make this month about appreciating the incredible treasure that is our national park system. For inspiration on where to hit first, check out this month's featured post highlighting 10 surprisingly birdy parks, as well our other related stories. And be sure to give yourself plenty of time to comb through Audubon's recent and sprawling climate report on the future of birds in our national parks. For more stories or to just join the Year of the Bird, visit the official website

July's Featured Action: Take a Child into Nature 

We're smack in the middle of summer, and for many children across the country, that means one thing: no school! Unfortunately, that does not necessarily mean they will spend their free time outside, playing in sprinklers, exploring their local woods and streams, and just generally getting good and dirty. Kids are going outside less and less, and so for this month, our Year of the Bird action is to take a child into nature. Whether it's your own kid or somone else's (please ask permission first), devote some time this month to helping at least one child discover and enjoy the beauty and wonder of nature. Below you can find our featured posts for ways to get kids into birding, but also be sure to check out the official Year of the Bird website for more stories and tips from our partner organizations. 

June's Featured Action: Cut Out the Plastics 

You probably know this by now, but it bears repeating: Plastic is absolutely terrible for the environment. It takes forever to degrade, spreads easily, and ends up harming wildlife across the globe. Unfortunately, our use of the stuff isn't going to stop—plastic is just too convenient. But there is plenty you can do on an individual level to reduce your own plastic waste.  That's why this month we're asking you to show your support for the Year of the Bird by committing to cutting plastic from as much of your life as possible. You can read more about why plastic is so bad at the official Year of the Bird website, and you can begin reducing your own plastic footprint by following the eight easy steps we outline below in this month's featured posts. 

May's Featured Action: Participate in Cornell's Global Big Day and Audubon's Climate Watch 

Spring is upon us! Migration is in full swing and birds are returning to their summer breeding grounds. Each year, tracking when certain birds show up where helps to create conservation strategies to protect them well into the future. Because of that, this month's Year of the Bird actions are to participate in Cornell's Global Big Day and Audubon's new Climate Watch program. For the Global Big Day, which is on May 5, you can contribute to a worldwide community-science project by logging all the birds you see in a 24-hour period. For more on how to get involved, visit Cornell's Big Day website. And after you're done with that, check out Audubon's Climate Watch page to learn about our newest community-science project, led by Audubon senior scientist Brooke Bateman. You can read more about Climate Watch and Brooke in the profile of her below. Also featured this month are some birding and ID stories that should give you an edge this spring, whether you're participating in the Global Big Day, helping out with Climate Watch, or just out to enjoy all of those colorful visitors migrating through. 

April's Featured Action: Speak Up for Migratory Birds 

One-hundred years ago, our country's most important bird-protection law was signed. Since then, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act has saved countless birds' lives from human threats. Back then, hunters and poachers were the biggest concerns. Now, industrial hazards such as oil pits and power lines endanger birds daily. Thanks to the MBTA, industries must work to prevent bird deaths caused by their activities and equipment. Despite all of the MBTA's success, though, the Trump Administration and some in Congress are trying to weaken the law by giving a free pass to industries. From nefarious language in bills to a damaging new interpretation of the Act, the MBTA is under attack. So, as migrants return to your yard this spring, don't just help them with bird seed and water. Speak up for birds by showing your support for a strong MBTA. To read more about the MBTA,  its history, and the dangers industrial traps pose to birds, check out this month's featured posts.  

March’s Featured Action: Grow Native Plants! 

Good news: Spring is almost here! Not only does that mean migrants will be arriving soon, but that means it's also time to get gardening. So for this month's Year of the Bird action, we're asking everyone to help birds by giving them the best backyard (or stoop, or balcony, or wherever) with native plants. How do you know if a plant is native? That’s what our handy native plants database is for. Just plug in your zip code and you’ll find native plants for your area—and the birds that love them. To learn more about how native plants—and you—can help birds, you can watch the video below and explore this month’s featured posts. And if you haven't joined the Year of the Bird yet, just hit "count me in" above. 

 February's Featured Action: Take Part in the Great Backyard Bird Count

For birders around the world, February means one thing: the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). Now in its 21st year, the GBBC (February 16-19) is a fun, easy activity that can take as little as 15 minutes and contributes to a global body of research. This month we’re asking everyone participating in the Year of the Bird to help science and birds by taking part in the GBBC. You can learn more about the GBBC and what you'll need to do in the first featured story below. Then, get prepped by reviewing our list of 15 common birds and finding the best bird guide for you. Also worth checking out are our guides to using eBird and Twitter, both of which are extremely handy tools for birders. And finally, in case you need a new pair of binoculars, take a spin through our Audubon binocular guide, which covers entry-level binocs to the premium goods. Until next month, happy counting! 

January’s Featured Action: Join the Cause! 

To kick off the Year of the Bird, we’re asking people to recommit themselves to helping birds and to protecting the places they need. So if you haven't signed up already, please do! And for inspiration, among this month's featured posts you'll find an introduction to the Year of the Bird by Audubon's President and CEO, David Yarnold; a piece on how birds bring people together; a history of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and its important role in conservation; and an essay on how the birding community can lift each other up, by Audubon board member J. Drew Lanham. In addition, learn more about how climate change threatens birds in Audubon's Birds and Climate Change Report, read everyone from famous directors to long-time Audubon staffers on why birds matter, and finally, just enjoy some striking images of birds from our 2017 Audubon Photography Awards.