World Migratory Bird Day 2018
World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is an annual awareness-raising campaign highlighting the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. It has a global outreach and is an effective tool to help raise global awareness of the threats faced by migratory birds, their ecological importance, and the need for international cooperation to conserve them.
Every year people around the world take action and organize public events such as bird festivals, education programmes, exhibitions and bird-watching excursions to celebrate WMBD. All these activities can also be undertaken at any time on the year because that countries or regions observing the peak of migrations at different times, but the main days for the international celebrations on the Second Saturday in May and in October.
All the activities organised for World Migratory Bird Day are united by a common theme. With the 2018 theme "Unifying our Voices for Bird Conservation".
On 26 October 2017 in the margins of the CMS COP12 in Manila, Environment for the Americas (EFTA), the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA), announced an innovative partnership to increase awareness of the plight of migratory birds around the world. The new partnership formally unites two of the world's largest bird education campaigns, International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) and World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) in a bid to strengthen global recognition and appreciation of migratory birds and highlight the urgent need for their conservation.
From 2018 onwards, the new joint campaign will adopt the single name of "World Migratory Bird Day" and major events to celebrate the day will be organized twice a year, on the Second Saturday in May and in October.
South Africa is a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors from around the world to enjoy the country's spectacular wildlife, scenery and culture. Humans are not the only visitors attracted to South Africa by its natural bounty. Every year thousands of birds migrate to this beautiful country on the southern tip of the African continent to enjoy the spring and summer months. The majority of migrating bird species are insect-eaters and/or seed eaters that need to seek out available food sources and will often travel in large flocks over thousands of kilometers to meet their needs.
Research by National Geographic reveals that up to 4.5 billion birds, representing around 185 species, fly from Europe and Asia in the north to southern Africa and back every year. Interestingly, although they follow the same migration routes every year without fail, the route to their summer destination in the south may differ from the trip back home. Birds that migrate to South Africa include the colourful Greater Striped Swallow, Amur Falcon, White-rumped Swift, White Stork, Pygmy Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Kite, Lesser Kestrel, Honey Buzzard, Woodland Kingfisher, Red-chested Cuckoo, and European Bee-eater.
The insect-eating Amur Falcon (Falco amurensis) breeds in northern China and south-eastern Siberia, migrating to southern Africa to escape the harsh winters of its home habitat. The Amur Falcon travels one of the longest migration routes of all bird species. White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) breed in Europe and Asia and migrate to southern Africa via the Middle East to enjoy an African summer, while the Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) breeds in central Asia, wintering in central and southern Africa.
The Greater Striped Swallow (Cecropis cucullata) remains on the African continent, wintering in southern Zaire, Tanzania and northern Angola, and spending the summer months in South Africa, southern Zimbabwe and Namibia, during which time it will breed and raise its young. While it prefers dry open country and grassland, it is unafraid of humans and is often found in the vicinity of human settlements. It is a colourful bird with chestnut crown, nape and sides of the head, dark blue upper parts and a pale orange-coloured rump.