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May 05, 2023

Celebrate World Migratory Bird Day at the Zoo

The Saint Louis Zoo is hosting a free event for World Migratory Bird Day, on Friday, May 12. Activities, educational engagements, and themed-treats will be available throughout the Zoo, as guests learn about the importance of helping migratory birds.

Event Logistics

The event will begin at 10 a.m. and end at 2 p.m. on Friday, May 12. Festivities include:

  • Bird watching at the North Lake
  • Creating a light switch plate cover at Penguin & Puffin Coast
  • Making a native seed craft at the Bird House

Starbucks at the Zoo will provide a snickerdoodle-themed beverage and the chef’s special at Zoo eateries will be the Sunflower Crunch Salad. Additionally, guests will have the opportunity to adopt an eagle (which comes with a plush bald eagle) and become part of the Zoo Parents Program. All proceeds of the adoption go to helping take care of the eagles at the Zoo.

A Global Celebration

World Migratory Bird Day is an annual event celebrated around the world. The 2023 World Migratory Bird Day theme is “Water” and how this important resource helps sustain bird life. Countless species rely on bodies of water – like lakes, rivers, ponds, and swamps – for wintering, breeding, and migrating. Learn more on the official website: World Migratory Bird Day

Although the official day will be celebrated globally on Saturday, May 13, the Zoo’s event will take place on Friday, May 12.

Monitoring Migratory Birds at the Zoo

The Saint Louis Zoo recently implemented new technology that allows biologists to monitor migratory birds: Motus Wildlife Tracking System (Motus) towers. Motus is a large-scale, collaborative research network that uses fixed radio-telemetry antennas to study the movements of animals for the benefit of conservation. Radio telemetry uses radio signals, which are made up of invisible and silent electromagnetic waves, to determine location.

This collaborative system tracks birds, bats and large invertebrates tagged by biologists. The tagging helps biologists collect valuable data on migration patterns, stopover locations, distances travelled, breeding and overwintering information. The number of towers has grown to over 800, including a tower at the Saint Louis Zoo and the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Park in Spanish Lake. The hope is to get many more stations up over the next few years in order to get a clear picture of migration for the tagged species.

The towers are small, but the information they relay is impactful. They offer a glimpse into the full life cycle of a bird on its migration route and offers valuable information for the biologists who study them. In the future, the hope is to have more towers down in the Gulf of Mexico and Central and South America to continue collecting data in birds’ overwintering areas.

About the Saint Louis Zoo
Home to over 16,000 animals, representing nearly 500 species, the Saint Louis Zoo is recognized worldwide for its innovative approaches to animal care and management, wildlife conservation, research, and education. One of the few free zoos in the nation, the Saint Louis Zoo is the most-visited attraction in the region. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Saint Louis Zoo is part of an elite group of institutions that meet the highest standards in animal care as well as provide fun, safe and educational family experiences. The Saint Louis Zoo and the other AZA-accredited institutions collectively dedicate millions of dollars annually to support scientific research, conservation and education programs. For more information, visit