World Migratory Bird Day

“Bird were flying from continent to continent long before we were. They reached the coldest place on Earth, Antarctica, long before we did. They can survive in the hottest of deserts. Some can remain wing for years at a time. They can girdle the globe. Now, we have taken over the Earth and the sea and the sky, but with skill, care and knowledge, we can ensure that there is still a place on Earth for birds in all their beauty and variety – if we want to…. And surely, we should”

Sir David Attenborough, The Life of Bird

The 9th of May is widely celebrated as the World Migratory Bird Day with the sole objective to raise ecological awareness and spearhead the conservation of the many species of avian life that travel across our planet.

The theme for this year is ‘Birds Connect Our World’, which was selected to shed let on the importance of conserving and restoring the ecological connectivity and integrity of ecosystems that support the natural movements of migratory birds and that are essential for their survival and well-being.

The idea was introduced by The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) and Environment for the Americas (EFTA) who have collaborated to forge a strong global recognition and the appreciation of migratory birds, since the year 2006.

Mentioned below are key considerations, as we celebrate this day:

The Connectivity of Ecological Corridors and Its Importance for Bird Migration

Migratory birds undergo arduous journeys across the globe in order to sustain themselves amidst seasonal changes, food availability and breeding conditions. As they undertake these quests to thrive across the various habitats of our planet, they require pit stops to refuel in order to propel themselves forward to their desired destination. The flyways used by these birds often encompass harsh terrains that aren’t suitable for layovers as the majority of them are either desolate or open seas.  While we humans have our political borders in place, for birds, there aren’t any such distinctions as they are the citizens of the planet finding a means to thrive. This level of commitment requires global cooperation that ensure the conservation of species by restoring and protecting these frequently use passage habitats.

Habitat Degradation

Today’s world is plagued by a number of underlying issues that have resulted in the loss of habitat for many species that coexist in our world. It’s safe to say, that the most of the reasons are man induced. With unsustainable agricultural practices and the setting up of energy and production based projects on the rise, habitats are becoming increasingly fragmented due to human activities. The consequences have of these actions have threatened species due to the stiff competition between them to find food and nesting sites. As these passage sites become more prone to habitat degradation, the struggle for survival is likely to intensify, putting large populations of these special birds at peril.

Obstacles that Threaten Flyways

As previously mentioned, the implementation of several energy projects that include wind turbines and power lines have served detrimental to migratory birds that fly by. Many species follow the same jet streams that most of these wind turbines are set up to harness, often colliding with these manmade structures especially during nightfall. This has led to a high mortality rates among the feathered denizens.

The Measures Required

By undertaking proactive measures through multilateral environment treaties, we can create systems which are essential to protect migratory birds on their international voyages. Creating and protecting habitat corridors would be of immense benefit to migratory birds and other wildlife.

In addition, these passage sites need to be safeguarded and managed properly to ensure their sustenance and conservation. Supporting Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) will provide migratory birds with the necessary feeding, breeding, nesting and sheltering grounds that are essential during their long flights.

How Citizens of the World Can Help

  • While many of us live in urban and suburban areas, if we possess a garden or backyard, putting out shelters or even a bath can invite birds to seek a temporary refuge before they continue on their migratory course. 
  • If we have dogs or cats, it’s best to keep a watchful eye to ensure that the areas frequented by birds are kept away from the reach of our beloved pets. 
  • Birding is one such activity that engages us to experience the species around us. It stimulates a greater sense of appreciation for the world we live in. The more we understand these beings, the more likely we are to talk about them and share our stories with others, thereby spreading ecological awareness and their importance to us as human beings and Earth at large. 

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