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Spring migration brings countless birds along with it

A brand new BirdLife campaign aims to inspire people to enjoy, care for and protect birds, especially during the spring migration.

Following the success of the autumn migration campaign held last year, BirdLife Malta has once again launched its #onthemove campaign to encourage people to enjoy, care about and protect migrating birds. This time round, with this second campaign, BirdLife Malta will celebrate the spring bird migration when birds would be migrating north from African wintering grounds to European breeding grounds.

Common Linnet at Buskett

Photo: Aron Tanti

The spring migration is very important because during this season, the Maltese islands serve as a stepping stone to many European species returning to Europe to breed. Unlike autumn migration, spring is often a more fast-paced migration, with birds running a race to reach the best breeding grounds in Europe just at the right time.

Common quail

Photo: SEO birdlife Spain

“During the spring #onthemove campaign, we will once more share insights about bird migration to encourage more people to enjoy, care and play a role in protecting migratory birds. Between the 15th March and 15th May, the campaign will be sharing fascinating facts about migration, and some of the special spring migratory visitors that one can observe will be introduced. We will also share information about birdwatching hotspots, as well as organise activities and events for the public to get involved,” BirdLife CEO Mark Sultana said.

Common kestrel

Photo: Aron Tanti

“Those interested are being invited to join our annual Spring Watch camp which will as usual monitor illegalities and wildlife crime with patrols in the countryside during the spring bird migration in April, especially during the period of the spring hunting season.”

Sultana said everyone has the right to enjoy the beauty of nature and nothing beats the spectacle of bird migration.

European bee-eater

Photo: Aron tanti

“Just the simple fact that most birds would be travelling across Africa, including stretches of desert and then also the open Mediterranean Sea, to finally arrive to the habitats in which they will breed, instills respect and hopefully a want to protect them from harm. Birds are indicators of the state of the general environment, and hence also human well-being. Through studying birds, we could anticipate and highlight issues that in the future could change our way of living. That is also another reason why we should protect them.”

European turtle dove at buskett

Photo: Aron tanti

Last year was a record year for illegal hunting in Malta and Gozo, with 210 known illegal hunting casualties recovered by BirdLife Malta and police during 2020 – the worst record in recent years. It was also a year marked by the EU challenging Malta on all ongoing hunting and trapping derogations.

Grey heron at salina nature reserve

Photo: Mario V Gauci

“Springtime remains a challenging period for Europe’s birds as they cross over our islands coinciding with the opening of a hunting season. This is why the EU shall be scrutinising any move to open this year’s season especially if it results in the killing of vulnerable birds such as the European Turtle-dove and other protected species,” BirdLife Malta Head of Conservation Nicholas Barbara said.

honey buzzard on migration

Photo: Aron Tanti

“Everyone has the power to protect birds,” explained further Sarah Brady, BirdLife Malta’s Head of Education and Public Engagement said. “This is especially important in spring when birds are at their most vulnerable stage throughout their long migration. Our #onthemove campaign provides the opportunity to enjoy and learn about the spectacular birds which are visiting the Maltese Islands as well as support everyone to do their part in giving them safe passage on to Europe.”

Visit BirdLife for more information.