Press Releases May 2010 - A Weekend of Celebration and Action for Migratory Birds - United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
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A Weekend of Celebration and Action for Migratory Birds

7 May 2010 - With over 10 per cent of migratory birds in danger, this weekend conservationists will highlight the extinction crisis threatening nature's global travellers.

The theme for World Migratory Bird Day 2010, celebrated around the world on 8-9 May, is 'Save migratory birds in crisis - every species counts!'.

Around 19 per cent of all known birds are considered to be migratory, of which 11 per cent are Globally Threatened or Near Threatened.

"The threat of extinction faced by individual bird species is a reflection of the larger extinction crisis threatening life on Earth," says Bert Lenten, Executive Secretary of the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) and initiator of the World Migratory Bird Day campaign.

Migratory birds face a plethora of mainly human-driven threats: agriculture is degrading natural habitat including vital breeding areas, and imported alien invasive species are changing prey and habitat patterns. Hunting and trapping, logging, an increasingly urban world, pollution and climate change all pose significant dangers to global bird populations.

Events for WMBD in over 40 countries will include bird festivals, educational programmes, presentations and birdwatching trips organized by hundreds of dedicated groups and organizations around the world.

An international photo competition - The World's Rarest Bird Photo Competition - is also linked to WMBD this year, with a focus on the world's most threatened birds.

Critically Endangered bird species are found throughout the world in all countries and territories.

"International collaboration is the only way to conserve migratory birds as they pass along their flyways", said Dr Marco Lambertini, BirdLife's Chief Executive.

"That's why the BirdLife Partnership, with over 100 national organizations across continents, can make a great difference in providing safer routes for migratory birds, as well as promoting the crucial inter-governmental efforts needed to address the growing threats along the flyways".

Prominent examples of migratory birds in crisis include the Slender-billed Curlew (Numenius tenuirostris), the Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita) , the Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarius) , the Waved Albatross (Phoebastria irrorata) and the Orange-bellied Parrot (Neophema chrysogaster) . All are listed as Critically Endangered.

Birds serve as vital indicators of the biological health of the ecosystems they inhabit. If a bird species becomes threatened with extinction, it is often a sign that the health of the larger ecosystems they inhabit and other species the same area are also under duress.

"The focus on the most threatened migratory birds in 2010 is another reminder to governments that more needs to be done internationally to conserve these species across their migratory ranges", says Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), a UNEP-administered wildlife treaty dedicated to conserving the world's migratory species.

Link to

Notes to Editors:

Worldwide, a staggering 1,227, or 12,4 per cent of the total 9,865 extant bird species in the world are currently classified as globally threatened, and 192 of these are considered Critically Endangered.

World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD)

World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is a global initiative devoted to celebrating migratory birds and for promoting their conservation worldwide. It is being organized by the Secretariats of the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) - two international wildlife treaties administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The WMBD 2010 campaign has also received support from the following partners: UNEP, The International Year of Biodiversity (IYB), BirdLife International, Wetlands International, The Partnership for the East Asian - Australasian Flyway (EAAFP) and The World's Rarest Project.

The WMBD campaign is made possible through part of the voluntary contribution given to the AEWA Secretariat by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

Events in over 40 countries

As of 6 May 2010, over 70 separate events in more than 40 countries have been registered on the campaign website. WMBD events will be celebrated in: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Canada, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Egypt, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, the Republic of Kosovo, South Africa, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, the United States of America and Zimbabwe.

World's Rarest Birds Photo Competition

World Migratory Bird Day 2010 has teamed up with this year's World's Rarest Bird Photo Competition covering the world's most threatened birds and has included an additional prize for the best photo of one of the 31 Critically Endangered birds that are migratory. Photos submitted to the international photo competition will be featured in a landmark publication - The World's Rarest Birds - which will support international conservation efforts and help fundraise for BirdLife International's Preventing Extinctions Programme. Contributors to the photo competition whose images are published will receive a free copy of the book and also have a chance of winning a number of attractive prizes.

For more information please contact:

Florian Keil, Information Officer, UNEP/AEWA Secretariat on Tel: +49 (0) 228 8152451, Mobile: +49 (0)151 14701633, E-mail:

Francisco Rilla, Information Officer, UNEP/CMS Secretariat on Tel: +49 (0) 228 8152460, E-mail:

or Veronika Lenarz, Senior Information Assistant, UNEP/CMS Secretariat on Tel: +49 (0) 228 8152409, E-mail:

at UNEP:

Nick Nuttall, Spokesperson/Head of Media, UNEP on Tel: +254 20 7623084, Mobile: +254 733 632755, E-mail:

The World's Rarest Bird Photo Competition:

Erik Hirschfeld, The World's Rarest, Tel: +44 (0) 1628 529 297, Email:




Further Resources

Press release (Versiķn Espaņol)

World Migratory Bird Day

UNEP Multimedia: Save migratory birds in crisis - every species counts! 

World Migratory Bird Day Poster

UNEP: Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA)

Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)

BirdLife International

UNEP: International Year of Biodiversity


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