Every year billions of birds undertake incredible journeys between the places they raise their young to the places they spend the rest of the year. Single trips of up to 5,000 kilometres are no exception and some shorebirds like the Bar-tailed Godwit travel in excess of 11,000 km non-stop on a migratory journey. A huge variety of birds migrate: from the Yellow-browed Warbler, weighing just under seven grams, to the formidable Cinereous Vulture with a wingspan reaching nearly 3 meters. Roughly one in five of the world’s 11,147 bird species are migratory. Here in Asia, there are more than 500 species of migratory birds.
Migratory birds fascinate and excite people. They connect countries, continents and cultures. The annual passage of migratory birds is a spectacle admired by people throughout the world. Many migratory species have important cultural connections to people, the best known perhaps being the Red-crowned Crane.
Super-highways for birds
When travelling between their breeding and wintering grounds migratory birds follow routes that allow them to travel safely and include habitats suitable to rest and refuel along the way. These routes are known as flyways. Globally there are eight of such super-highways for migratory birds.
Crossing borders, continents, mountains, oceans and deserts comes with risks. Birds can generally handle natural challenges such as adverse weather. However, the obstacles that humans have created in the last decades are of a different order. Along all flyways key habitat for migratory birds are disappearing and threats like hunting and poisoning are increasing. At present 336 migratory bird species are currently at risk. As migratory birds cross national borders, the responsibility for their conservation is shared by all the countries that they pass through.
Conservation of migratory birds is one of the highest priorities for BirdLife International, the world’s largest nature conservation partnership that unites over 100 national Partners worldwide. Partners are collaborating along all major flyways to address issues that migratory birds are facing. BirdLife’s work is underpinned by cutting-edge scientific research.
We work on the ground to prevent extinctions, preserve important habitats and sustain the vital ecological systems that underpin human livelihoods. We build the capacity of local organisations, combining knowledge and resources to generate action greater than the sum of its parts.
The East Asian-Australasian Flyway is the most threatened flyway of the world’s flyways. Together the 12 BirdLife Partners take action to:
– Conserve and restore coastal and inland wetlands important to migratory birds, with a special focus on the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper, the Far Eastern Curlew and the Sarus Crane.
– Understand and address illegal and unsustainable hunting of wild birds. We work together with local people, governments, research institutes and civil society organisations. Join us to help conserve migratory birds.
More information at www.birdlife.org
DISCLAIMER: BirdLife International is proud to have been the Knowledge Partner for the Fly-A-Way board game. In this role we provided scientific guidance on species, their habitats, appearances, migratory patterns, threats faced and conservation status, accurate to June 2020. BirdLife played no role in the design, presentation or creative elements of the product.