To celebrate International Migratory Bird Day, the Friends of St. Vincent NWR hosted an International Migratory Song Bird Celebration tour on St. Vincent Island last week.

Over the length of the tour, volunteers discussed the importance of St. Vincent Island to migratory birds, stating that the island acts like a rest stop to birds flying north or south.

According to the National Audubon Society at least 4,000 species of birds migrate worldwide.

Bird count studies on St. Vincent Island have documented 270 bird species, both migratory and non-migratory species.

Many of the birds that migrate through the Panhandle fly up from Central and South America as well as the Caribbean, and the Gulf area is ripe for events called “fall outs.” Fall outs events are where hundreds or even thousands of birds will ground themselves after long, cross sea flights to rest and recuperate before moving on.

St. Vincent Island is a prime spot for wildlife. The 12,300 acre refuge is home to six separate eco-systems that support hundreds of different species, including a few endangered species.

The geologically young island, only 6,000 years old, is also a historical treasure.

If you walk the north to south trails of the island you will be backwards through time, cutting through the 100 dune lines of the unique barrier island.

The island has also been home to Native Americans, a landing site for the Spanish, a site of a brief Civil War fort, and a hunting camp for a wealthy patron.