Celebrate the “World Migratory Bird Day” in Hima Kherbet Kanafar

The Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon, in collaboration with the municipality of Kherbet Kanafar, invites you to celebrate the “World Migratory Bird Day” under the patronage of Mrs. Claudine Aoun Roukoz, special advisor of the President, in the West Bekaa Country Club. This awareness-raising event would highlight the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats, involving a wide spectrum of stakeholders related to responsible hunting. This event is funded by the Embassy of Switzerland, MAVA Foundation, BirdFair and Homat Al Hima International.

All the activities organized for World Migratory Bird Day are united by a common theme. With the 2017 theme “Their Future is our Future”, WMBD will throw light on the topic of “Sustainable Development for Wildlife and People“. WMBD 2017 will highlight the interdependence of people and nature, and more especially people and migratory animals – in particular birds, as they share the same planet and thus the same limited resources. The 2017 campaign will aim at raising awareness on the need for a sustainable management of our natural resources, demonstrating that birds conservation is also crucial for the future of humankind.

The Concept of Flyways: Why Migratory Birds Need Protection – all along their Flyways

There are many different migration patterns. The majority of birds migrate from northern breeding areas to southern wintering grounds. However, some birds breed in southern parts of Africa and migrate to northern wintering grounds, or along lines of latitude, to enjoy the milder coastal climates in winter. Other birds reside in lowlands during the winter months and move to higher altitudes for the summer.

Migration is a perilous journey and exposes the animals to a wide range of threats, often caused by human activities. As migratory birds depend on a range of sites throughout their journey along their flyway, the loss of wintering and stopover sites could have a dramatic impact on the animals’ chances of survival.

Flying long distances involves crossing many borders between countries with differing environmental policies, legislation and conservation measures. International cooperation among governments, NGOs and other stakeholders is required along the entire flyway of a species in order that knowledge can be shared and conservation efforts coordinated. The legal framework and coordinating instruments necessary for such cooperation is provided by multilateral environmental agreements such as the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA).

Living Planet: Why we should celebrate World Migratory Bird Day

It’s spring in the northern hemisphere – and one sure sign of that is the flocks of geese, cranes and other migratory birds flying overhead, coming back in for the summer. On May 10, we celebrate World Migratory Bird Day. In an interview, Borja Heredia, head of the avian unit at the United Nation’s Convention of Migratory Species, explains why migratory birds are so important.


They are waterbirds, landbirds or raptors, they fly over different parts of the world – but they all face similar threats during their migration. These seven flagship species of migratory birds will help you better understand what is at stake and what we can do.

Barn Swallow

Enigmatic and familiar, the Barn Swallow can be found nearly worldwide—breeding across the Northern Hemisphere and wintering in the Southern Hemisphere as far away as Argentina and Australia. These bright blue birds are known for their abundance in open spaces and for their close association with humans. The birds have always been linked to people, even adapting former nesting grounds in caves and cliff faces for manmade structures as industrialization and urban sprawl changed their habitats. The swallow also feeds on bugs and insects, working as pest control for humans.

In recent years, though, the Barn Swallow has taken a hit. Land reclamation and the overuse of harmful pesticides have led to population decline. As agriculture has intensified the birds have lost important habitats, also reducing insect prey.

The Barn Swallow is an international symbol of bird migration and is a strong indicator of threatened habitats affecting similar bird species. As human interference and land reclamation begin to wreak havoc on the swallow population, similar birds may already be suffering the consequences.

Black-Tailed Godwit

Creative Commons photo by Andreas Trepte

With its long beak, white-barred wings and namesake tail, the Black-Tailed Godwit is a distinctive and elegant bird. The godwit breeds from Iceland all the way through Europe and Siberia to parts of central Asia. It has a diverse migration pattern spanning the Indian Subcontinent, Australia, West Africa and parts of Western Europe.

The main threat for this species is habitat loss. Draining wetlands for dams and agricultural use throughout its main breeding and wintering ranges has left the Godwit homeless. The IUCN Red List categorizes the Black-Tailed Godwit as near threatened— it is estimated that the world population has declined by between 14 and 33 per cent in the past 15 years, according to Bird Life International.

Amur Falcon

Creative Commons photo by Bernard DUPONT

The Amur Falcon is a fascinating migratory raptor. Every year, the small, resilient birds make the daring voyage from breeding grounds in Russia and China to winter in southern Africa. It is supposed that the falcons cross the Arabian Sea during their migration, but much is still unknown about the patterns of their estimated 22,000 km migration.

Because of the long journey, stopover sites are important for Amur Falcons to maintain stamina. In 2012 an estimated 120,000 to 140,000 birds were trapped in nets and killed while passing through a remote part of the Indian Nagaland region. This prompted a swift response from the Indian Government and the Nagaland Forest Department, which used patrols and education initiatives for villagers as a means to halt trapping. In 2013, no falcons were trapped.

The Amur Falcon exemplifies the threat of illegal trapping and killing during migration, which harms countless bird species each year. Besides this, the birds are prone to habitat loss from agricultural practices and land reclamation. Only international cooperation from organizations and governments working together will help preserve these species as they become increasingly vulnerable.


Creative Commons photo by Frankie Chu

The Garganey duck breeds in flooded fields and swamplands throughout Europe and Asia. This mid-sized duck can be recognized by the distinctive white stripe around its eye and the blue and white patches along its wings. Strictly migratory ducks, Garganeys travel from as far north as the United Kingdom to wintering grounds in the northern tropics of Africa.

Because the Garganey prefers wetland habitats, its most pressing threat is from land reclamation and drainage. The ducks are losing their habitats to reservoirs and dams that replace natural marshes.  Drier fields as a result of climate change and other types of human interference are also detrimental to the Garganey. While the ducks are hunted legally in much of Europe—which is largely sustainable and beneficial to conservation—illegal killing in Africa as well as lead poisoning has been marked as a threat to the Garganey population. Although the population remains healthy, scientists are noticing a steady decline (about 30 per cent every three generations). The problems facing the Garganey, specifically loss of wetlands, is representative of alarming issues for countless other migratory birds.

Yellow-Breasted Bunting

Creative Commons photo by Baatargal Otgonbayar

This bright-yellow bird may look like another colourful songbird, but in parts of China and Southeast Asia it is eaten as a delicacy. The Yellow-breasted Bunting was commonly found as far away as Finland, but has all but disappeared from Europe and the northern parts of Siberia and Japan. The birds now migrate mostly from Siberia to wintering grounds in China and the shores of Southeast Asia.

With only a handful of these birds left—declining by 80 per cent within 10 years, according to BirdLife International—the Bunting is registered as endangered by the IUCN Red List. By far the biggest problem for this species is illegal hunting on wintering grounds. The increased popularity of the “Rice bird,” as it is known in Asia, has led to a profitable black market business. These birds are so prized that at one market in Sanshui, China at least 10,000 birds are sold each day.

As land reclamation shrinks its habitats and hunters continue to seek out more birds, the Yellow-breasted Bunting is creeping closer to extinction.

Red Knot

Creative Commons photo by Andrea Westmoreland

Very little distinguishes the Red Knot from other migratory shorebirds. Only a practiced bird watcher would be able to pick this plump, average-sized bird out of a line-up. Still, the Red Knot has captured public interest the world over as a prime indicator of all Arctic shorebirds.

Unlike other shorebirds, the Red Knot makes a harrowing 14,000 kilometre journey along the Atlantic flyway from South America and along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway all the way up to the Arctic Circle for breeding. This exhausting trip requires several stops along the shores of the Yellow Sea and the Atlantic coast. These stops are vital for the species’ survival.

Recent reclamation on the Yellow Sea along with an increase in Atlantic horseshoe crab fishing, whose eggs the birds feed on during migration, have led to widespread habitat loss—the Red Knot’s biggest threat. The rapid population decline has placed the Red Knot at near-threatened, according to the IUCN Red List.

Spoon-Billed Sandpiper

Creative Commons photo

Originating along the Chukotsk Peninsula in Russia, the Spoon-billed Sandpiper is facing extinction. The birds migrate through 8,000 kilometres of coastline on the East Asian-Australasian Flyway and breed only in lagoon spits and areas with crowberry-lichen vegetation. Once these spatulate-billed birds reach their wintering grounds along the Yellow Sea in China, they find their habitats lost to land reclamation for industry, tourism and agriculture. Besides changing, and even disappearing, coastlines much of the Sandpiper population is susceptible to trapping. Young Sandpipers spend up to the first two years of their life on non-breeding grounds and are thus more likely to be caught by hunters.

With so few birds remaining—an estimated 360-600 breeding individuals—the Spoon-billed Sandpiper has become the focus of conservation efforts. The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) has developed an international single species action plan to conserve breeding and wetland grounds while halting illegal trapping. The combined human and environmental threats on the Spoon-billed Sandpiper are devastating for the species, but with increased understanding and action we could save this unique creature from the brink of destruction.

Facts and figures from BirdLife International and IUCN Red List.


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