Posted by: Dan | March 23, 2009

BirdLife’s Born to Travel Campaign

BirdLife Cyprus – Cyprus’ position in the Eastern Mediterranean places it on one of the major migration routes and makes it an important stop off point for many species which pass each year from Europe/Asia to Africa via the Nile Delta. With a few exceptions, these are birds that breed in Europe passing south through Cyprus in autumn to return to winter in Africa or the Middle East, returning northwards again in spring. A look at the status of the birds that have been recorded on the island shows that at least 200 of the 380 species are passage migrants.

BirdLife International – More than 40% of migrant bird passing between Africa, the Middle East and Europe, have declined in the last three decades. Of these 10% are classified by BirdLife as Globally Threatened or Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. “Every year, migratory birds brave mountains, oceans, deserts and storms on their journeys to survive”, said Dr Marco Lambertini – CEO of BirdLife International.

“Their epic flights connect us all – crossing our borders, cultures and lives. However, we are destroying the habitat they need to rest and re-fuel, building hazardous structures such as powerlines which cross their path, and illegally shooting and trapping them”, added Dr Lambertini.

In response to these worrying declines, BirdLife has launched the Born to Travel Campaign to protect migratory birds along the African-Eurasian flyway. “There is no better moment then the first day of the northern spring to celebrate the arrival of migratory birds from Africa, and for BirdLife to announce our Born to Travel campaign to improve the conservation of these amazing trans-continental travellers”, added Dr Lambertini.

Migration flyways

Migration flyways, for land birds, illustrating bottlenecks as they cross the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe and back again.

The Concerns

Various migratory bird species have been facing alarming declines in recent years.

  • Many birds that are considered common, have in fact been decreasing very fast for decades, like the Cuckoo, the Turtle Dove and the Barn Swallow.
  • Almost half of long-distant migrant bird species (that migrate between different continents) have declined over the last 30 years.
  • At least half of the migratory raptors of the African Eurasian region are under threat, from showing consistent declines, to being officially threatened according IUCN’s Red List.
  • 10% of migratory species are actually moving towards extinction (to varying degrees), such as the Aquatic Warbler, Red-breasted Goose and European Roller.

The Campaign

  • We need to conserve a network of sites. Important Bird Areas (link coming soon), especially wetlands, throughout Africa, Middle East and Europe need to be better protected and managed throughout the flyway, and threats to sites should be removed.
  • We need to restore and improve crucial habitats by encouraging sustainable land use (especially in agriculture and forestry) throughout Europe, Middle East and Africa.
  • We need to give birds a safe journey Placing large structures such as wind farms and power lines in the right way, regulating pesticide use that poisons birds, and banning spring hunting are all measures that will help restore populations.

Also, check out the Born to Travel Campaign’s Facebook page.



  1. I regularly travel to Cyprus (Cape Greko Peninsular) and have witnessed the wonderful sight and sounds of migrating birds. I am very concerned about their deminishing numbers and in particular the traditional culture in Cyprus of shooting and trapping thousands of birds. Apparently they are eaten as a delicacy. I wish there was a way this tradition could be outlawed or, at leaste, controlled.

  2. Welcome Tim,
    Point of fact – shooting is regulated and trapping is illegal. The ‘delicacy’ is called Ambelopoulia, which is also illegally served in many restaurants, and which I’ve posted on repeatedly (see the Tag Cloud in the sidebar).

    Please help spread the word about these things, and help encourage stricter enforcement!

  3. I love the map…these are the expectable pats of any critter that is land oriented, but capable of traversing short expanses of water between Africa
    & Eurasia. As an environmental/evolutionarily conscious anthropologist (archaeologist), I wish that more of my peers had enough phyllogeograhic/ecological good sense to stop taking the narrow approach to ‘out-of-Africa’ via the Mid-East only. Despite the frequent objections of Iberian & central Mediteranean biologists as well as archaeologists, most anthropologists seem stuck in a ‘early humans couldn’t go any other way ’cause all they knew how to do was walk’ rut.
    I think that there’s ample evidence that not only is our species good at swimming, but exploiting floating objects and making at least crude watercraft. Then like our feathered friends we have the same routes open. For the intellectually adventurous and those lucky enough to discover it, Berthold Laufer’s 1928 classic “Prehistory of Aviation” (Field Museum of Natural History, Anth. Series #1) offers interesting possibilities that the hyper-conventional would never investigate!


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