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Take flight in May

Take flight with us this May as we learn more about the wildlife trade and how it affects birds. Why is it important? Birds are key components of healthy ecosystems, which we all benefit from. According to Birdlife International, of the 10,000 species of birds, 46% of them are negatively affected by human utilization. 

What is the bird trade?   

Wild birds are often collected for the pet trade, but many are also collected or hunted for food, their parts, or for sport. Did you know that birds, mainly parrots, are in the top five of preferred pets in the U.S.? Internationally, as many as 800,000 wild birds are collected and imported to the U.S. each year for the pet trade. These staggering numbers have led to declines in wild populations globally. For example, the Animal Welfare Institute reports that “nearly one-third of all parrot species are threatened with extinction due to habitat loss and collection.” 

What does Zoo Atlanta do to help?   

Zoo Atlanta does many things to raise awareness of the bird trade and to support wild bird populations. The Zoo has programs that focus on responsible pet ownership, as well as bird presentations that engage guests in learning about the plight of wild birds and how they can be advocates for them. In addition, the Zoo participates in research to track migratory birds. Working with partners, Zoo teammates tag and/or band birds as they move through our region, and then the Zoo ATL Motus Tower electronically collects data on tagged birds that fly through the Atlanta area. Lastly, we collaborate with field conservation partners, both local and global, to provide resources, both financial and human, to advance the work to conserve these important wild populations. 
How can you help?   

  • Read up! Wild birds are protected by three laws here in the United States: the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Wild Bird Conservation Act.  These laws provide protection that aligns with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) for both birds that naturally migrate through the U.S. and those that are imported from other parts of the world.   
  • Do your research!  Curve the causes behind the decline in wild populations by doing your research if you are looking to get a bird as a pet. In addition, you can make good choices when you travel, by doing your research on how to Be Informed, Buy Informed.
  • Get native! Help bird populations flourish by creating healthy environments for them to migrate through and inhabit. Consider planting native species in your yards and supporting organizations who promote this, such as your local zoo (Zoo Atlanta), botanical garden (Atlanta Botanic Garden), or Audubon Society chapter (Georgia Audubon). 
  • Visit the Zoo!  Visit us at the Zoo this month, either in person or through our social media, to learn more about birds and how you can be an advocate for them, as we will be celebrating Migratory Bird Day on May 8 and World Parrot Day on May 31.

Reference links: 
Animal Welfare Institute:  
The Endangered Species Act: 
Wild Bird Conservation Act Link:  
Migratory Bird Treaty Act Link:  
Birdlife International Data Zone:  
Atlanta Botanical Garden: 
Georgia Audubon:  

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl