World Migratory Bird Day, or endangered sky migrants

Światowy Dzień Ptaków Wędrownych

Each year, guided most likely by a genetically encoded travel route and using the position of the stars and sun to navigate, migratory birds travel thousands of kilometers between breeding and wintering grounds. Records in terms of distance traveled are broken by the Arctic tern. Every year it flies about. 30-40 thousand. km, between the northern Arctic Circle and Antarctica.

During their journey, migratory bird species encounter a variety of threats that negatively affect their populations. Therefore, in order to make the public aware of the growing need to protect and level the dangers along the flight paths and habitats of these sky migrants, World Migratory Bird Day is celebrated every year.

May 11 – World Migratory Bird Day

The first World Migratory Bird Day was celebrated in 2006. Its establishment and celebration was initiated by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) under the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). Since then, it has been celebrated around the world twice a year – on the second Saturday in May and the second Saturday in October. This year its spring edition is being celebrated today.

The main purpose of the celebration is to promote efforts to protect migratory birds. The celebration focuses on raising awareness to ensure the safety of birds during their migration. It is also important to note the need to protect their habitats and places of collective grouping. In addition, priority is given to identifying and eliminating barriers that may impede the route of their travels.

Climate change increasingly threatens migratory bird populations

One of the main dangers for migratory birds is the impact of climate change on water resources, and thus limited access to water. We described this issue in the article The impact of the growing water crisis on migratory birds . In addition, the drying up of lakes and the loss of more than 35 percent of the The world’s wetlands over the past half-century, as well as the desertification of areas along migratory bird migration routes and destinations, have deprived these birds of access to food and shelter. As a result, many migratory bird species are now endangered.

The scale of this problem, which is particularly relevant on World Migratory Bird Day, is perfectly described in the United Nations (UN) State of the World’s Migratory Species report. Its published data shows that 134 species of migratory birds are threatened with extinction worldwide.

In Poland, we also identify this problem. Published in 2020, by the All-Poland Society for the Protection of Birds (OTOP), the Red List of Birds of Poland. among the critically endangered species lists: the sandwich tern, the marmot, the ruffed bat and the terns, among others.

Humans are also a threat to migratory birds

Progressive climate change, however, is not the only topic being discussed as part of World Migratory Bird Day, which prompts reflection on the state of their populations. Human activity poses an equally great threat to them. Illegal hunting, expansive agricultural activities, increasing urbanization along flight paths, degradation of natural habitats and marine bycatch all contribute to the number of bird species threatened with extinction increasing every year.

As the aforementioned OTOP report in Poland indicates, the largest number of endangered bird species (37 percent), are found in wetlands – both extensively used for agriculture and in natural habitats . This is mainly due to the intensive activities carried out in recent years to prevent periodic flooding of river valleys. In addition, the issue is also affected by declining groundwater levels due to deliberate interference with riverbeds.

In South Georgia, however, according to BirdLife ‘s State of the World’s Birds report, the biggest threat to migratory birds is bycatch during fishing (bycatch means accidentally catching species other than the target species). Because of it, the albatross population has declined by as much as 40-60 percent over the past 35 years. The same report also pointed out that around the world, migratory birds also face the problem of increasingly thriving residential and commercial areas.

World Migratory Bird Day provides a unique opportunity to reflect on the steps we can take to prevent the extinction of these species in the coming years. A key aspect of these activities is the protection of natural water bodies and wetlands. In addition, it is also extremely important to raise public awareness of the negative impact of human activities on natural ecosystems.


Photo. main: Joshua J. Cotten/Unsplash

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