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Protecting birds: World Migratory Bird Day coming up in May

CMS (Bonn Convention on Migratory Species) was established in Bonn many years ago and is an integral part of the UN Bonn family. When thinking of migratory species, beautiful picture of birds on their biannual journey comes to mind. On May 14 and October 8, 2022, the world is celebrating their arrival and departure.

Bonn International News has talked to Amy Fraenkel, Executive Secretary to the Bonn Convention, about the campaign’s key message and planned activities.

Madam Executive Secretary, can you tell us about the history of World Migratory Bird Day and the activities you are planning in this context?

Amy Fraenkel, Executive Secretary to the Bonn Convention

World Migratory Bird Day is aimed at raising awareness of migratory birds and issues related to their conservation. It was launched in 2006 to counteract the negative publicity around wild   birds across the world, due to their possible role in spreading the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) or bird flu. Since then, World Migratory Bird Day has grown around the globe, with over 2,000 events organized in over 100 countries since the campaign’s inception.

World Migratory Bird Day is celebrated on two peak days each year (the second Saturday of May and October) to highlight the global phenomenon of bird migration. We do so to highlight the need for international collaboration to better protect migratory birds and their habitats globally. Campaign events usually promote the conservation theme, contribute to raising awareness or encourage people to act. They include bird-watching tours, educational workshops and exhibitions, webinars, festivals, and painting competitions, which have been organized at schools, parks, town halls, education centers, and nature reserves. 

World Migratory Bird Day is organized by a collaborative partnership among two UN treaties - the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), and the non-profit organization, Environment for the Americas (EFTA). The 2022 global campaign is also being actively supported by other dedicated organizations, including the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) and BirdLife International (BLI). 

A poster campaign along Heussallee leading up to the UN premises is raising awareness for migratory birds. What is the key message you would like to convey with this campaign?

We thank the City of Bonn for the opportunity of providing such high visibility to our campaign in seven languages: six official languages of the United Nations and German. The banners also convey this year’s message. 

Every year, we select a new theme for the campaign to underline a specific topic related to migratory birds. This year, we focus on light pollution. The increasing use of lighting has modified the natural environment dramatically, and impacts wild animals, including many species of migratory birds. Light pollution can alter birds' behaviours, including migration, foraging and vocal communication. It also affects their activity levels and their energy expenditures. Migratory birds are particularly exposed to light pollution,
especially those which migrate at night. Light pollution attracts and disorients nocturnally migrating birds, which may end up circling in illuminated areas. This unnatural light-induced behaviour can mean they end up depleting their energy reserves and puts them at risk of exhaustion, predation and lethal collision. 

International efforts are underway to reduce the impacts of artificial light on migratory species. At the last meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (COP13) in 2020, the COP adopted the Resolution “Light Pollution Guidelines for Wildlife”, calling for the development of new guidelines, including for migratory landbirds.

Many people feel a strong emotional connection to birds. Are there some simple things we can all do to protect and support migratory bird species? And where can I find more information on migratory birds?

Information on migratory birds and the World Migratory Bird Day campaign is available on the dedicated website of the campaign. Visit the  www.worldmigratorybirdday.org (opens in a new tab) for more information on activities in previous years and this year’s focus on light pollution. 

To learn more about our work, please visit the CMS website:  www.cms.int (opens in a new tab) 

Everyone can also organize an event to raise awareness on the topic for World Migratory Bird Day and help spread the word about the campaign by announcing it on their own website, newsletters and via their social media channels. People can use their networks and channels to tell others about light pollution and how it affects migratory birds. We encourage everyone to use the resources on our website and in our social media packs for this purpose. The main hashtags of the campaign this year are #WorldMigratoryBirdDay and #WMBD2022 and #DimLightsForBirds.

On a personal note: Was there a special occasion in your life that started your commitment to migratory birds? And is there a particular migratory bird that you feel most connected to? Or perhaps even a bird story that comes to mind, which you would like to share with our readers?

Osprey

As a child, the common birds near where I lived were my introduction to nature. What’s amazing about migratory birds is that they are found in every kind of setting – in relatively undisturbed natural areas,  but also in farm areas and in the middle of major cities. Everyone has seen a migratory bird, even if they don’t realize that it travels with the seasons. 

A special bird for me is the Osprey.  It is a magnificent bird that eats mostly fish, and was in decline when I was growing up - likely due to the use of certain pesticides such as DDT.  It has made an amazing recovery, and shows that it is possible to reverse the loss of endangered species through conservation efforts and by addressing the major threats to migratory species.    

 

If you are interested in learning more about Bonn’s migratory birds, you may want to check out the fall program at our  House of Nature (opens in a new tab).

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  • Convention on Migratory Species
  • Convention on Migratory Species