Organized by the Secretariats of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), World Migratory Bird Day is an annual, global awareness-raising campaign highlighting the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. 

Every year, World Migratory Bird Day presents an annual theme aiming to raise awareness of issues affecting migratory birds and to inspire people and organizations around the world to take measures for their conservation. This year’s theme − “Protect Birds: Be the Solution to Plastic Pollution!” − will put the spotlight on the negative impact of plastic pollution on migratory birds and their habitats.

With an annual production of more than 300m tons, plastic is one of the most widely used materials in the world. What often escapes one’s attention is that the plastic is used for its main purpose for only a moment compared with its lifecycle of 20 to 500 years. Lightweight and designed to last, the discarded pieces are easily transported into ecosystems through the forces of nature causing serious threats to migratory species around the world.

Sadly, having wings does not help birds escape the threat of plastic. Birds with stomachs full of plastic entangled and smothered by plastic rings and nets are all too real consequences of the toll that plastic takes on wildlife.
The number of seabirds dying from the effects of plastic every year is currently 1 million and growing. Existing research pinpoints the urgency of the matter: not only do 90 per cent of seabirds have plastic in their guts, but this proportion will reach 99 per cent by 2050.

9 Awesome Facts About Bird Migration  

  • At least 4,000 species of bird are regular migrants, which is about 40 percent of the total number of birds in the world.
  • The Arctic tern has the longest migration of any bird in the world. These black-capped, red-billed birds can fly more than 49,700 miles in a year.
  • The award for fastest bird goes to the great snipe: It flies around 4,200 miles at speeds of up to 60mph!
  • Speaking of long distances, the northern wheatear travels up to 9,000 miles each way between the Arctic and Africa, giving it one of the largest ranges of any songbird.
  • Even birds that don’t fly migrate. Emus, the large Australian birds, often travel for miles on foot to find food, and many populations of penguins migrate by swimming.
  • Some birds, like the blackpoll warbler, almost double their body weight before flying 2,300 miles non-stop for 86 hours.
  • In the United States alone, up to one billion birds die each year from window collisions.  And approximately seven million die from striking TV and radio towers in North America annually.
     
World Migratory Bird Day; Time To Stop Feeding Birds Plastic

Why Do Birds Migrate?

Birds migrate to move from areas of low or decreasing resources to areas of high or increasing resources. The two primary resources being sought are food and nesting locations.

Birds that nest in the Northern Hemisphere tend to migrate northward in the spring to take advantage of burgeoning insect populations, budding plants and an abundance of nesting locations. As winter approaches and the availability of insects and other food drops, the birds move south again. Escaping the cold is a motivating factor but many species, including hummingbirds, can withstand freezing temperatures as long as an adequate supply of food is available.

Some threats to migratory birds  

The most common and most deadly threats to migratory birds include:

Pollution  

Pollution such as lead poisoning or oil spills is not only harmful to locally affected birds, but to migratory birds as well. Polluted habitats provide less food, and birds that ingest toxins during migration may continue to suffer from the poisonous effects longer after leaving the area. Furthermore, heavy pollution will reduce suitable habitat, making it more difficult for birds to complete their migration successfully.

Poaching

Many hunting seasons coincide with migration periods, making this perilous time even more threatening for birds. Illegal hunting and poaching are also a threat at this time. Even legitimate, experienced hunters may make mistakes and inadvertently shoot protected birds that they have misidentified in flight.

Habitat loss  

Inadequate food supplies cause starvation among migrating birds every year. This may be caused by habitat destruction that effectively strands migrating birds without food along their route, or it can be due to greater feeding competition among large flocks of migratory birds.

Collisions   

Tens of thousands of migrating birds collide with obstacles in mid-flight during both spring and fall migrations, and the majority of these collisions cause fatal injuries. Even if the birds are not killed on impact, stunned birds are more susceptible to predators. The most common dangerous obstacles include tall glass buildings, electrical wires and poles, wind turbines, and similar structures.
 

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World Migratory Bird Day is an opportunity to celebrate the great natural wonder of bird migration - but also a reminder that those patterns, and ecosystems worldwide, are threatened by climate change
Did you know that some migratory birds can sleep while flying?

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