Celebrating World Migratory Bird Day - National Tree Day Blog

Celebrating World Migratory Bird Day

On the 14th of May we celebrated World Migratory Bird Day!

Migratory birds are those that fly hundreds or thousands of kilometres every year to find the best conditions for feeding and breeding. There are many different ‘flyways’, or popular routes these birds take all over the world, but birds primarily migrate from breeding areas in the north to more productive feeding areas in the south.  

The physiology of migratory birds, including longer and more pointed wings and more effective fat storage, allows them to fly long distances at high speed. One of the longest known migrations is by the Red Knot, which begins its journey in Siberia and travels 16,000km, to the west coast of Africa, twice a year! 

Unfortunately these long distance travellers are facing more threats than ever on their journeys. Stops to rest and re-fuel along the way are essential to ensure a successful migration for each bird. For many migratory birds, wetlands and mangrovesare preferred habitat for both stopovers and settlement sites. Unfortunately, many wetlands across the world, particularly in South East Asia are affected by deforestation and urbanisation and are no longer able to host the flocks they once did.   

In Australia, which is part of the East Asian Australasian Flyway, changes in land use and clearing are also reducing available resting and nesting habitat for migratory birds.  

In addition to habitat loss, other anthropomorphic factors such as climate change, hunting, pollution, invasive species and light pollution are harming these birds. The theme of World Migratory Bird Day was focussed around light pollution. The additional light humans add to the night sky can cause disorientation in birds, seeing them collide with buildings/structures and impeding their ability to undertake long distance migration.  

Migratory birds are facing many threats in our modern world and given their huge distribution across the world, it will take a committed, collaborative effort to ensure their protection.  

One way you can help is by getting involved with National Tree Day and planting for the birds! Find a planting site near you or read more about the groups helping migratory birds in Tree Talk.

Sarah Chaplin

Sarah joined the Planet Ark team in early 2019 to work in the Information Centre and on the National Tree Day Seedling Bank special project. She is passionate about environmental science and has an academic background in biology and conservation science. Since graduating, she has worked with small not-for-profit environmental organisations and is delighted to be able to put her range of skills and experience to use at Planet Ark.