Birds are #onthemove again!

March 10, 2021 5:37 pm

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.

New campaign aims to inspire people to enjoy, care and protect birds during the spring migration

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.

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 organize activities and events for the public to get involved. The #onthemove campaign will be using social media platforms amongst other communication channels, sharing information about how everyone can enjoy bird migration in Malta.

Hoopoe (Photo by Denis Cachia)

A main element of the campaign is to provide the opportunity to locals who want to volunteer by helping BirdLife Malta watch over migratory birds to ensure they pass over the Maltese Islands safely on the way to their breeding grounds. 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.

BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana stated: “Everyone has the right to enjoy the beauty of nature and nothing beats the spectacle of bird migration. 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.”

Honey-buzzard on migration (Photo by Aron Tanti)

BirdLife Malta Communications Manager Nathaniel Attard said: “A crucial part of this campaign will be calling on people to take action. We encourage people to share our social media content, and register their objections to the illegal killing of birds with politicians but also support our conservation work to prevent illegal hunting through donations and by becoming members. Needless to say, we will also be calling on the general public to report to us and police any spring hunting illegalities they may witness during the coming weeks”.

“Everyone has the power to protect birds. 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 onto Europe,” explained further Sarah Brady, BirdLife Malta’s Head of Education and Public Engagement.

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. “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 scrutinizing 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 concluded.

Everyone is encouraged to follow the #onthemove campaign on BirdLife Malta’s website and social media platforms to make the most of the amazing natural spectacle of migration and help us ensure that Malta is a safe haven for all birds that need our protection on their perilous journeys.

Read the Maltese version of the press release here