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Wildlife and our last remaining wild places are being destroyed because of human action or inaction and because of our own short –term greed.

Peter Fearnhead, CEO, African Parks Network, South Africa

Calling all bird lovers! It's World Migratory Bird Day on 9 May 2020

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On the 9th May 2020 (and 10 October 2020), it’s World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD for short). 

It’s a global campaign  and it’s dedicated to raising awareness of migratory birds and the need for countries around the world to co-operate in their efforts to save them.

This year, the theme is “Birds Connect Our World”.

It was picked to highlight how important it is to conserve and restore the ecological connectivity and integrity of ecosystems which support the natural cycles that are essential for migratory birds to survive and thrive.

The day gives us all an opportunity to discover more about migratory birds and be in awe at their amazing feats.

Migratory birds need networks with stops

Migratory birds travel far.  They need to be able to stop to rest and feed and breed. If you like, you could liken it as a journey along a motorway system and every so often, they need to stop for a break to fill their tummies and have a break.

Birds need networks of sites

They need a network of sites along these routes to breed, to feed, to rest and spend the winter.  They need different sites and habitats, irrelevant of which country they are in. They can cross incredible distances and over impossible terrains such as deserts and open seas.  They cross national borders and soar above any national agenda.  What they do need is for countries to co-operate to ensure their routes are kept open and safe for them. 

 

Examples of migratory birds’ routes

The East Asian – Australasian Flyway goes from the Russian Far East and Alaska through East Asia and South-East Asia, down to Australia and New Zealand – 22 countries in all.  The Flyway is home to over 50 million migratory waterbirds from over 250 different populations.   They need a system of wetlands to rest, feed and build up the energy they need for the next part of their journey. 

Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust has an example of swan’s migrating from Slimbridge up to their tundra breeding grounds in the Russian Arctic. 

RSPB has information about the Arctic tern who travels a rather amazing 22,000 miles a year – the longest migration of all – as they move continually between the Arctic summer and the Antarctic summer.  

Swifts breed throughout Europe as far north as Lapland and the Arctic Circle, reaching east across Asia to China.

So you can see how important it is that countries work together to give these birds the flight paths they need, with all the facilities along the way.




What can be done at a national/international level:

  • Increase action globally via environment treaties such as the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Africa-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA).  These are vital to protect migratory birds on their international flight paths.
  • Creating habitat corridors which are protected and which go across boundaries would really help animals who migrate and fly over national boundaries. 
  • Networks of crucial sites which are imperative to migration needs must be safeguarded and managed properly.  Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas as described by BirdLife International give migratory birds all they need during their long flights - necessary feeding, breeding, nesting and sheltering grounds.

What individuals like you & me can do:

  • Have a bird-friendly garden with safe shelters and a bird bath.  Give them bird food. Put feeders out of reach of cats.   
  • Spread the word about how important it is to protect migratory birds. 
  • Download and use birding apps – it’s a great way to connect to like-minded bird lovers.
  • Find out more about migratory birds.  There are resources on the WMBD website so fly off and nest and rest there a while and peck at all the information you can.

 This day is held twice a year , on 9 May and 10 October so you could prepare an event or attend an October event.

Visit BirdLife International and the WMBD’s site here

 

 

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