May 10 - 16, 2020: Issue 449


World Migratory Bird Day 2020: Birds Connect Our World - BirdLife Australia Offering Critically Endangered Swift Parrot Webinar + Saving Swift Parrots With Margaret Atwood Video

World Migratory Bird Day is celebrated by people across the world on Saturday, 9 May 2020 with the theme “Birds Connect Our World”.

The UN-led campaign aims to raise awareness of migratory birds and the importance of international cooperation to conserve them. It is organised by a collaborative partnership among two UN treaties - the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) - and the Colorado-based non-profit organisation, Environment for the Americas (EFTA).

Coming at a time when most of the world’s population is under some form of restricted movement due to the coronavirus, this theme carries a particular relevance and poignancy.

“Migratory birds can be found everywhere: in cities and in the countryside, in parks and in our backyards, in forests and in mountains, in deserts and in wetlands, and all along the shores.

They connect to all of these habitats, and they connect us and the places where we live to people and places around the globe,” said Amy Fraenkel, Executive Secretary of CMS. 

"Yet, migratory birds are under threat, from loss of habitat, climate change, poisoning, power lines, and illegal killing. We need to step up our actions across the world to better protect migratory birds and the habitats they need to survive and thrive.”

The 2020 theme underscores the importance of conserving and restoring the ecological connectivity and integrity of ecosystems that support the natural cycles that are essential for the survival and well-being of migratory birds. Given there is clear evidence that the destruction of wild areas can facilitate the kinds of infectious diseases the world is now combating, urgent action to better protect and sustain wildlife and their habitats is needed.

Because migratory birds depend on a network of sites that cross national borders along their migration routes for breeding, feeding, resting and overwintering, international action to protect them is essential.

Hundreds of virtual talks and a wave of social interactions dedicated to migratory birds are expected to take place in many countries on the day, with educational programmes being offered virtually by many organisations including schools, parks, zoos, forests, wildlife refuges, wetlands, museums and libraries.

“Despite the challenges that humankind must face, it is not a silent spring. Birdsong has overtaken the sound of cars in many of the world’s cities. Many birds are coming back to breed in wetlands, forests and even in our gardens. This shows that the cycles and rhythms of nature,  including those of migratory birds are continuing on their normal course,” said Jacques Trouvilliez, Executive Secretary of AEWA. “The only real difference is that more people are now listening. Let us hold on to this new sense of appreciation, enjoy this music, and look for birds around us. Birds carry a message of hope. Let us remember the birds and, nature as a whole, when we go ahead to build a healthier, more environmentally responsible and more liveable world for all of us. Birds connect us.”

Approximately 1,800 of the world’s 11,000 bird species migrate, some covering enormous distances, with the Bar-tailed Godwit, for instance, flying 11,680 kilometres between Alaska and Australia. This and other long-distance nomads connect ecosystems along their entire migration routes, the flyways. These need to have sufficient networks of sites and appropriate habitats, such as wetlands, coastal areas, forests and grasslands to support migratory birds during their life cycle, enabling them to move and to survive.

“We share the birds that journey across borders, their beauty and the spectacular phenomenon of their migrations. We are also connected by the role we play in their protection. No matter how distant we may be from one another, our combined actions determine the survival of these long-distance travellers,” said Dr. Susan Bonfield, Director of EFTA.

EFTA, which is spearheading World Migratory Bird Day activities in the Western Hemisphere – along the Americas Flyway - is launching BirdDayLive a new interactive website functioning as a major hub of activities for the campaign, including virtual events such as live talks by experts, videos, quizzes, book readings and creative activities designed for children.

Another global highlight, this time on the East Asian-Australasian Flyway is an online performance involving music, art and story-telling together with an account by Milly Formby about her flying adventures with migratory birds. The event is being led by the East Asian – Australasian Flyway Partnership Secretariat (EAAFP), which has actively supported World Migratory Bird Day and coordinated celebrations across this flyway for several years.

Elsewhere around the world many dedicated organisations, groups and individuals will be using the day to highlight their commitment to the conservation of migratory birds through engaging their audiences online. The day has also been supported by many governmental and nongovernmental organisations including BirdLife International, Wetlands International and the WWF, which is offering a collection of photography and facts about migratory birds for people around the world to enjoy at home.

Launched in Kenya in 2006, the UN-backed campaign has grown in popularity over the years and countries recently agreed that World Migratory Bird Day is to be celebrated globally on two peak days - the second Saturdays in May and October - to accommodate the cyclical nature of migration and to allow celebrations to take place in countries in every part of the globe.

Statements of support for World Migratory Bird Day, a description of the campaign and its history as well as details of registered events can be found on the global campaign website:

BirdLife Australia is offering a webinar on Australia's critically endangered swift parrots, stating in a news item received this week;

Birds connect our world...

What a timely theme for this year’s World Migratory Bird Day.

While we all adjust to the Covid19 crisis our amazing birds continue with normal life. In just the past few weeks, Swift Parrots have migrated from their Tasmanian breeding forests to feed on flowering eucalypts along the south-east mainland – unaffected by social distancing or domestic travel restrictions.

These gorgeous and charismatic birds are one of only three migratory parrots in the world, crossing Bass Strait each autumn to spend the winter in the forests and woodlands of the mainland.

Along the way they face numerous challenges but the biggest threat to their survival is completely unnecessary – their homes among the gum trees in Tasmania and New South Wales are being destroyed by the native forestry industry.

And unless governments change their forestry practices, Swift Parrots could be lost forever.

This summer’s bushfires destroyed so much – everything that is left is more precious than ever. We know what needs to be done to protect them, but we need your local voice to help.

Join us in a webinar to hear from locals, experts and BirdLife Australia scientists on what is at stake and what we can do to protect these birds and forests forever. 

Now, more than ever, is the time to listen to science!

Swift Parrots are returning to a completely different south-coast of New South Wales, one that has been ravaged by this summer’s devastating bush fires. But some of their most important feeding habitat spared from fires is now open to native logging by the New South Wales government.

While they desperately look for food amongst the unburnt flowering gums in New South Wales, their previously protected summer forests in Tasmania could be opened for logging if the Tasmanian Parliament agrees. 

When: Friday May 22nd
Time: 12:00PM - 1:00PM
Where: Online webinar (details to be sent via follow up email)


Saving Swift Parrots With Margaret Atwood

Published May 4, 2020 by BirdLife Australia

In February 2020, BirdLife's Woodland Birds team had the pleasure of spending some time searching for Swift Parrots with acclaimed author and long-time BirdLife supporter Margaret Atwood Margaret Atwood. 

Like the rest of us, she is gravely worried about our already precarious Swift Parrots. Their population numbers have plummeted from over 8,000 breeding pairs to less than 1,000 pairs. Their biggest threat is deforestation. 

Yet industrial logging surges on — even after the devastating loss of habitat during the summer’s bushfires. Our forests are in dire need of a break. But incredibly, in New South Wales logging is happening in bushfire ravaged areas, and in Tasmania we could see previously protected forests opened up for logging if the state Parliament agrees.  

This year is a very important one for Australian nature. For the first time in ten years, National Environment Laws are being reviewed —and BirdLife will be on the frontline, calling for urgent action. We’re giving threatened birds a voice, and we need you by our side. 

BirdLife Australia is dedicated to fighting for stronger nature laws, and with the review this year, our Campaigns team will be fighting harder than ever to make sure our most vulnerable birds are looked after. 

Please consider giving now to support our critical re-vegetation projects and advocacy campaigns so that birds like the Swift Parrot will have habitat into the future.