WORLD MIGRATORY BIRD DAY

Global Geoparks Network encourages its members to pay attention to the state of the world’s migratory birds and the changes that have taken place in their migratory routes.

WORLD MIGRATORY BIRD DAY

May 14, 2022

Global Geoparks Network encourages its members to pay attention to the state of the world’s migratory birds and the changes that have taken place in their migratory routes, and to organize events to highlight these issues.

At the initiative of the United Nations, World Migratory Bird Day has been celebrated twice a year since 2006, in May and October on the second Saturday of the month. That’s when spring and autumn migration of birds are usually at their peak.

LIGHT POLLUTION – THEME OF THE YEAR

The aim of the World Migratory Bird Day events is to raise public awareness of the importance of international cooperation in the conservation of migratory birds. Migratory birds do not care about border formalities when traveling but use the airspace of numerous states and even cross entire continents.

Although the migratory journeys of birds are long, many species progress in short stretches of day and rest in between. So, they need safe, undisturbed, species-specific resting and dining areas. Based on the implementation of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), action will be taken worldwide to promote the safe migration of birds.

The World Migratory Bird Day 2022 campaign focuses on “light pollution,” which has been found to cause problems, especially for nocturnal insectivorous birds.

WHERE DO THE BIRDS FLY?

About 250 different bird species nest in Finland. The number of birds living here is estimated at about 100 million. Admittedly, it varies greatly with the seasons, as more than 80 % of the species that nest here migrate elsewhere.

Some birds only move as much as they are forced to. For example, swans and the hardest waterfowl move further south only that the body of water remains thawed. Other species, on the other hand, make very long migratory journeys, such as the Arctic Tern, which migrates from the extreme, arctic regions of the north to the fringes of the Antarctic. The length of the journey can be up to 20,000 km twice a year. The weight of the bird is about 100 g. And the Common Tern, not bad either, it migrates from the home lake to southern Africa to spend the winter.

TO AFRICA FOR WINTER

Numerous bird species in the northern hemisphere move south to the equator for the winter. Species flying to southern Africa will have to cross a vast, demanding Sahara Desert. So do our Common house martins, which weigh only 15-23 g. If there is no peaceful oasis with drinking places along the way, the trip can end short.

Many other insectivores are also migrating to Africa. Among other things, all the Northern wheatears in the world – including the Finns – overwinter there. Thus, on the American continent, Northern wheatears nesting in Alaska travel about 14,500 km across Asia to central Africa. A Whinchat that nests on the outskirts of meadows in Finland spends its winter in the savannahs of Africa with lions and zebras. The osprey, on the other hand, fishes in the African lakes during the winter season.

TRANSIENT BIRDS

In addition to leaving our own migratory birds in the autumn and arriving in the spring, Finland is also a transit country for many bird species. The passage of Arctic waders, Long-tailed ducks, Common scoters and Velvet scoters can reach millions of individuals. Today, several hundred flocks leave the migration of hundreds of thousands of geese to feed in Finnish fields. Before, Barnacle geese used to fly by, now, some of them stay here to nest.

Wading birds in the Arctic tend to migrate to the southern hemisphere. Almost 20 species of water and shorebirds in the Arctic coastal region regularly migrate across Finland. They do not nest here but remain on the shallow seashore for long periods of time, especially during the autumn migration. Among other things, on the beach sludge in the autumn, the Curlew sandpiper does not nest or overwinter anywhere in Europe, but it does stop by to eat.

MIGRATORY BIRDS NEED SAFE REST AREAS

FINNISH BIRDS – OUR OWN OR GUESTS FROM FAR COUNTRIES?

So where is the “home” of the migratory bird? Is it in a nesting area in Finland, or perhaps in a wintering area in the Mediterranean countries / Africa / Asia? Why does it go on such a long and arduous journey at all, where it is exposed to many dangers? It can catch prey on its way or be killed by a person shooting birds for fun. The traditional resting and dining places of its migration route may have turned into a built-up area with no more room for an exhausted little bird. So why go far north to nest? Wouldn’t a closer place be found for reproduction?

The northern spring and early summer have some characteristics that help the nesting succeed: in the spring and early summer, the air is “thick” with flying insects, so there is enough food for the hatching chicks. In the long, bright night in the north, mothers can feed their chicks at night as well. The chicks of many bird species would not survive the tropics’ 12-hour night without feeding. Among other things, these reasons cause birds to return to their birthplace, their “home,” repeatedly.

CHANGES IN BIRDS INDICATE CHANGES IN THE ENVIRONMENT

More than a third of the bird species nesting in Finland have declined. Birds wintering in Africa and Asia in particular, as well as birds nesting in the farmland and northern bird species, are declining alarmingly. The populations of species nesting in wetlands and agglomerations began to decline in the early 2000s. Migratory species suffer most often man-made deterioration of living conditions during the migratory period and in wintering areas. The former resting and eating places may have been completely lost, for example due to construction. There is therefore a need for international cooperation to ensure safe migration routes for birds.

LAUHANVUORI – HÄMEENKANGAS GEOPARK PROVIDES A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR MIGRATORY BIRDS

Geopark areas contribute to the adequacy and safety of nesting and resting areas. In the Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas Geopark area, there are bogs on Metsähallitus’ lands where moving is forbidden during the nesting and migration period of birds. Restrictions are also needed to allow birds to rest during the autumn migration in Kauhaneva. The purpose of the marked trails and duckboard paths is to ensure nesting peace also outside the restricted areas.

Organized by BirdLife Finland and carried out by regional bird associations, the most important bird gathering areas in each province (winter and migratory feeding and resting areas and areas for molting of feathers) have been identified. In the Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas Geopark area, there are 11 of these regionally important bird areas, in addition to the two already known nationally important bird areas, Puurokeidas – Hannankeidas and Häädetkeidas Nature Park + Keidaslammit ponds. The identification of migratory breeding areas and migration routes is particularly important so that they can be considered in social decision-making, such as zoning, and so that the birdlife important values ​​of the areas are not inadvertently degraded.

More information on migratory bird routes and resting areas is needed. Thus, Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas Geopark invites bird enthusiasts in the area to participate in the World Migratory Bird Day on Saturday, May 14, 2022.

 

Text: Eira-Maija Savonen

Photos: Terttu Hermansson

Main image: World Migratory Bird Day