Mon | Dec 9, 2019

Protect birds: Be the solution to plastic pollution

Published:Sunday | October 13, 2019 | 5:35 AM
A young brown booby caught on a fishing lure. Many kinds of plastic are dangerous to Caribbean birds.

October heralds a change in the seasons — even in the Caribbean. The days grow shorter and the fierce heat of the sun lessens. Countless birds journey to their winter homes in the Caribbean. For World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD), Caribbean people celebrate the birds that come here every year.

In the Caribbean, about a third of the 500 often seen species of birds are summer or winter visitors. More than 60 events on 20 Caribbean islands are already lined up to celebrate these amazing birds. More than 80,000 residents and visitors will join in the activities, led by Environment for the Americas and BirdsCaribbean.

The 2019 theme for WMBD in the Caribbean is ‘Protect birds: Be the solution to plastic pollution.’ Plastic pollution has become a worldwide epidemic and a great threat to birds around the world. It is estimated that since the 1950s, we have made 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic. Over 90% of plastic is not recycled and ends up in our landfills and natural spaces.

Plastic can hurt birds in many ways. Birds can mistake floating plastics like bags, drinking straws and bottles, covered in algae, for food. Parent birds feed plastic to their chicks. Swallowing sharp plastic can kill birds by piercing organs. Birds can starve with stomachs full of plastic, and birds can die after being trapped in plastic waste or fishing line.

To celebrate, local coordinators on each island will raise awareness about simple actions that people can take to keep birds safe from plastic pollution. For example, practise the three R’s: reduce, reuse and recycle plastic and other trash. Some events will include clean-up activities, and, by supporting local and global action against plastics. Festival events will include birding walks, tree plantings, church services, media interviews, street parades, fairs, information booths, games, and drama and art competitions.

Visit migratorybirdday.org and birdscaribbean.org for ideas on how to celebrate and many free resources. Find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information about the WMBD, to find events in your area, and see an event map on worldmigratorybirday.org and updates throughout the month.