Minister Guilbeault’s statement on World Migratory Bird Day


May 12, 2023 – Gatineau, Quebec

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, issued the following statement to mark World Migratory Bird Day on May 13:

“Migratory birds are at the heart of Canadian biodiversity. When I think of the Arctic Terns that travel 70,000 km each year, or of the geese that migrate in a V shape to save energy, I can only admire their incredible ability to adapt.

“On World Migratory Bird Day, I would like to reaffirm the Government of Canada’s commitment to protecting birds and their habitat. The country seasonally hosts about 470 species of birds, and about 380 of them are migratory birds protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act. Unfortunately, they are not exempt from the impacts of the unprecedented biodiversity crisis we are facing. However, our actions to protect 30 percent of land and water in Canada, to reduce plastic pollution, and to address climate change, will have positive and lasting impacts on bird populations.

“Canada has a long history of bird monitoring, and its expertise in the field is internationally recognized. The year 2023 marks the 100th anniversary of Canada’s Bird Banding Program which, with our partners at the US Geological Survey, is one of the oldest- and longest-maintained biological databases in North America. Initially established to study bird migration, exciting new technologies such as automated radio-tracking and innovative laboratory techniques to track genetics, make bird banding as relevant today as it was 100 years ago. We can now follow individual birds more effectively to understand their movements and identify priority sites for conservation, or threats those birds are facing. This allows us to use the right protection actions in the right place, in collaboration with our partners, here and internationally.

“Migratory birds help maintain our ecosystems. It is estimated that 78 percent of Canadian migratory bird species spend over half the year in other countries. Some will winter in the United States, while others will fly as far as South America. Avian influenza is affecting birds globally, and Canada is no exception. Our experts monitor and assess how the avian influenza virus impacts wild bird populations and contributes to the national surveillance program by sampling and testing wild birds in collaboration with other federal departments, like the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, provinces and territories, Indigenous communities, the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative, and other stakeholders.

“This month, millions of migratory birds are returning to Canada to breed and raise their young. On this special day, I invite Canadians to enjoy nature while watching and listening for birds. We are fortunate to be able to observe them so easily, whether in the city, in the country, by the sea, or in the forest. We remind Canadians to not handle or feed any wild bird by hand to minimize the risk of transmission of avian influenza. We will continue to work to protect them, so that future generations can also be inspired by their strength and beauty.”


Kaitlin Power
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)

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