NAIROBI, Oct 8 – The World Migratory Bird Day will be marked on Saturday, October 9, with people all over the world engaged in a global campaign to raise awareness of migratory birds and the need for international cooperation to conserve them.

The UN-backed campaign is organized by a collaborative partnership among two environmental treaties – the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), and the non-profit organization, Environment for the Americas (EFTA).

This year’s theme “Sing, Fly, Soar – Like A Bird!” focuses on the phenomena of “bird song” and “bird flight” as a way to inspire and connect people of all ages around the globe in their shared desire to protect and celebrate migratory birds. Hundreds of events in all corners of the world have been registered on the website to mark the day. People will also use their creativity and the universal language of singing and dancing to express and share their appreciation for birds through social media.

“Migratory birds bear witness to and are impacted by the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP). “Making progress on reigning in climate change and ending biodiversity loss is critical to the survival of migratory birds. The journey of a migratory bird knows no borders and therefore, neither should our response to the planetary crisis. I call on us all to step up action, action and action to protect the future of all species on this planet.”

World Migratory Bird Day is celebrated on two peak days each year (second Saturday in May and in October) in recognition of the cyclical nature of bird migration and the different peak times of migration along the world’s flyways. The October peak day, which generally falls in the post-breeding migration period, comes amidst a wave of headline news, from the recent IUCN Red List warning that 14 per cent of bird species worldwide are threatened with extinction, to the US government declaring numerous bird species extinct.

“World Migratory Bird Day is an opportunity for people everywhere to learn about migratory birds and about the many challenges they face,” said Amy Fraenkel, Executive Secretary of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). “This year the focus is on their unique songs and flights, and we invite people to reconnect with nature by actively listening to and watching birds – wherever they are,”

Migratory birds the world over are threatened by habitat loss and illegal hunting as well as from poisoning, pollution and collision with man-made objects, such as glass-covered buildings and powerlines. Climate change is adding additional pressure on migratory birds by adversely affecting habitats they need for breeding, resting and refuelling along the way. The changing climate is also impacting the annual cycles of birds, affecting the timing of migration and reproduction and causing mismatches in food availability.

Another emerging threat to migratory birds is light pollution, which disorients birds flying at night, leading them to collide with buildings – the likely cause of the mass mortality event involving hundreds of migratory birds in New York City in September this year.

Approximately 2,000 of the world’s 11,000 bird species migrate, some covering enormous distances, like the Arctic Tern or the Bar-tailed Godwit, which flies distances up to 11,680 kilometres non-stop between Alaska and New Zealand.

On their journeys across the planet, migratory birds use broad migration corridors or pathways known as flyways. Soaring birds such as storks or eagles are currently gathering by the thousands at some of the major flyway bottlenecks like the Strait of Gibraltar, the Hula Valley or along the Appalachians Mountains gliding and soaring to save energy during their long journeys. These flyways span multiple countries and include the main routes the birds follow, generally in a north-south and south-north direction twice each year.