Fundación Iberdrola España and SEO/Birdlife join World Migratory Bird Day

Fundación Iberdrola España and SEO/Birdlife join World Migratory Bird Day

  • SEO/BirdLife joins the World Migratory Bird Day to be celebrated tomorrow, May 9, under the slogan “Birds connect our world”, and invites you to register in eBird the species you observe from your home or on your walks through your city or town.
  • Migratory birds such as swallows, swifts, and house martins, know no borders and knowing their routes and the threats they suffer on their long journeys is essential for their conservation.
  • Since 2011 SEO/BirdLife works to know the migration of birds through the Migra program, which has the collaboration of the Fundación Iberdrola España

Madrid 08/05/2020. While we are in full global alert for COVID-19, with much of the world with reduced mobility, migratory birds are in full prenuptial migration returning to their nests and breeding areas. SEO/BirdLife reminds us of the importance of protecting these travelers on World Migratory Bird Day, because now more than ever they are important bioindicators of the quality of the planet.

On Saturday, May 9th people around the world will celebrate World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD), a global campaign dedicated to raising awareness about migratory birds and the need to cooperate internationally to conserve them. It also coincides with the Global Big Day celebration where thousands of bird enthusiasts will record their bird observations worldwide on eBird.

This year, the theme is “Birds Connect Our World” to highlight the importance of conserving and restoring the ecological connectivity and integrity of ecosystems that support natural cycles and are essential for the survival and well-being of migratory birds. The slogan also underscores the fact that migratory birds are part of our shared natural heritage, and that they depend on us for their future conservation across administrative boundaries.

Migratory birds are already here

“This year, when the state of alarm limits our movements, SEO/BirdLife wants to highlight the importance of migratory birds that coexist with us in towns and cities, and that we can watch as they return from their migratory journey from our windows and on our walks. More than ever we need healthier and cleaner cities that welcome these and other birds throughout the year,” says Ana Bermejo, coordinator of the Migra program of SEO/BirdLife.

The urban migratory species par excellence are the Barn Swallow, the House Martin, and the Common Swift. Swallows and planes spend the winter in the African Sahel 2,500 km from their nests, while the common swift winters farther away, more than 9,000 km, in the jungles and savannahs of Tanzania and Kenya. All of them are able, thanks to their excellent navigation system, to return to breed in the same place year after year.

The white stork was another well-known migrant returning from the Sahel every spring. However, the changes produced by human beings in the world have changed its migratory strategy in recent decades, and now 80% of the breeding adults winter in Spain.

For lovers of birds of prey, the lesser kestrel and the European scops owl are some of the migratory species that we enjoy in the cities. The lesser kestrel is a small colonial raptor that we can enjoy even in large urban centers, such as in the cathedrals of Seville and Jaen, or in the Church of San Esteban in Segovia. The scops owls, as nocturnal birds of prey that they are, are more difficult to see, but very easy to hear near parks and gardens, especially at dusk when their loud and repetitive call can remind more than one of a car alarm in the middle of an urban area.

Lesser-known migratory species, but also close to cities and towns, are the Common Swift, Pallid Swift, and Song Thrush (the latter is mostly seen in parks and gardens).

The Migra program of SEO/BirdLife

Since 2011 SEO/BirdLife’s priority objective has been the study of bird migration, which it has been developing through the Migra program with the collaboration of Fundación Iberdrola España.

Thanks to the advance of new technologies for remote bird monitoring, devices are being used that are increasingly lighter on the one hand and, on the other, with greater capacity. Thus it is becoming possible to mark, for example, common swifts with GPS devices, and small and medium-sized birds of prey with devices that take coordinates even every 5 minutes. The marked birds allow us to know where they are throughout the year, and to know in detail their movements and migrations, their breeding and wintering areas, the areas where they rest during migration, and the habitats used by each species.

The results obtained are gradually being shown in various publications, both scientific and informative, to make them known to ornithologists, administrations, and the general public. Since the beginning of the program, 13 scientific articles have been published in various international journals and five specific monographs with the results of the program. All this contributes to an increasingly better knowledge of the spatial ecology and movements of the species being tagged, which will have an impact on better bird conservation.

The Migra program currently has 1,110 marked birds of 33 different species, of which 651 birds of 32 species have provided useful information. This program has more than 300 collaborators and 50 partner organizations in Spain and abroad.