Saturday, May 14th, 2022
World Migratory Bird Day is a UN-supported biennial event to raise awareness for the incredible journeys of these migratory birds, and the need for protection of their habitats all around the world. This global conservation campaign mirrors the ways migratory birds connect nations and continents, and the necessity for international cooperation to conserve them.
The first World Migratory Bird Day of 2022 is Saturday, March 14th – marking the Autumn migration of Australian shorebirds flying North to the Arctic Circle to breed.
After ‘fattening up’ in Australian wetlands and coastlines, migrant shorebirds undertake the longest known migration of any species – flying the length of the East Asian Australasian Flyway (up to 13 000km!) – without stopping for food or rest.
This feat demonstrates the importance of their core habitat areas for foraging, however, “destruction and degradation of their wetland and intertidal habitats means migratory shorebirds have experienced population declines of up to 80% over the last 30 years.” (Birdlife Australia)
The theme for World Migratory Bird Day 2022 is ‘Dim the Lights for Birds at Night’.
Artificial light is a known cause of disruption and disorientation of migratory bird species, many of whom fly at night with calmer winds and decreased predation. This can lead to collision with infrastructure and discombobulation of their internal clocks and ‘GPS systems’ – adversely impacting their ability to complete migrations and ultimately leading to increased mortality rates.
Artificial light is increasing globally by at least 2% per year (https://www.worldmigratorybirdday.org), with the primary source of light pollution being dense metropolitan areas ie. cities, especially in the Northern Hemisphere.
However, artificial lighting can cause disruption anywhere there is significant habitat for migratory birds within a 20km radius.
Solutions to light pollution are a simple shift in behaviour. As international awareness is raised by initiatives like World Migratory Bird Day, an increasing number of cities across the world are taking measures to dim building lights during Autumn and Spring migrations and other steps to ensure successful movement of these remarkable birds.
The 2nd biennial World Migratory Bird Day is Saturday, October 8th – marking the Spring return migration of shorebirds, followed by their precocious chicks!
Do your bit for shorebird conservation by:
- joining Hunter Bird Observers Club (HBOC) in surveys and on ground conservation works, such as mangrove and rubbish removal from key habitat areas (https://www.hboc.org.au/activities/)
- Submit surveys via the Birdata App.
- Follow and support ‘Wing Threads – A Shorebird Flying Adventure’ with Microlight Milly on her flight around Australia (https://wingthreads.com/)
- Attending Shorebird Community Events with Hunter Region Landcare Network and NPWS
- Avoiding disturbing nesting areas with 4WD and off-leash dogs
- Adhering to National Light Pollution Guidelines for Wildlife (https://www.awe.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/national-light-pollution-guidelines-wildlife.pdf)