A Quiet Thought about Bird Migration …
Flying Machines by Little Stint
As a preliminary note it is important to understand that our information about Bird Migration is based historically on Bird Ringing and more recently on Satellite Tracking, further details about these topics can be found here.
The AWB Region lies at heart of the twice yearly massive bird migration phenomenon that occurs between the PALEARCTIC Region and AFRICA, and within which, it appears to be concentrated into several FLYWAYS that all pass through our region. The List of Palearctic bird species migrating within Africa has been put together by the University of Copenhagen, and gives a total of 343 Western Palearctic migrating bird species.
Notes on bird migration relevant to each country can be found on all the COUNTRY PROFILE pages. In addition to the Migration Flyways outlined below, within them right across The AWB Region (and some adjacent areas) are found some key migration bottlenecks which are summarized here on Migration Hotspots.
Bird Migration Patterns help support their long term survival but their routes and patterns differ widely. There are many influences on patterns of migration, some, notably many songbirds migrate by night, to maximize resting, foraging and feeding time during the day, others notably soaring birds migrate by day, optimizing their use of thermals to aid their gliding flight. Once migration has started many more influences come into play that affect stopover points along their journey, one such influence is changing magnetic fields . Another vital factor, particularly for waterbirds is the availability of a suitable chain of wetlands along the whole length of their migration journey. This vital chain of requirements has led to the development of Ramsar Sites and the concept of Important Bird Areas, IBA’s to ensure that these vital wetland staging posts are maintained and protected.
Birds know when to migrate. Changes in light exposure and seasonal temperature swings initiate migratory journeys, but geographical features such as seas, oceans, deserts, mountains, coastlines and rivers predispose birds to concentrate their migration routes into generally more predictable Flyways.
Being at the crossroads of three continents there are many hotspots to choose from across the AWB Region
As can be seen from the Flyways link above, there are three major Global Flyways:-
The African – Eurasian Flyway
The Americas Flyway
The East Asian – Australasian Flyway
These three Global Flyways are being actively supported by The Birdfair Project , however each of these is composed of smaller Continental Flyways, which again, often at specific locales, are composed of Regional and even Local Flyways. The term ‘Flyways’ is often used quite generally, and there does not appear to be universal agreement about some specifics, (which is probably not unexpected), but in relation to these four orders of magnitude, represent useful practical concepts in terms of understanding bird migration patterns.
A good general impression of the diversity of Flyways Concepts can be obtained by perusing these Images of Bird Flyways from around the world.
Spotlight and Casestudies on Flyways – birdlife.org show an interesting international range of studies.
Waterbirds Around the World – jncc
Wader Quest – waderquest.org
Tracking Migratory Arctic Shorebirds – arctic.noaa.gov
Monitoring Programs for Arctic Migratory Waterbirds – wetlands.org
Conference – Waterbirds around the World – wetlands.org
Report on Global Waterbird Flyways – biodiversity-i.iisd.org
Protecting Flyways – unops.org
A more detailed picture of the 3 Global Flyways composed of 9 Continental Flyways can be found at the Partnership for the East Asian-Australasian Flyway
and Migratory Shorebirds of the East Asian – Australasian Flyway – environment.gov.au
Some further thoughts on flyways can be found at Flyways – Sandy Sraits and Beyond
This US Fish & Wildlife Service website and Audubon Strategic Plan 2012-2015 – dogwoodcanyon.audubon.org affirm that there are four main bird migratory flyways across North America, this would raise the total number of Continental Flyways to ten from nine above, but further discussion is outside of our range of interest, but the above clearly shows that there is plenty of scope for further clarification see CMS – Strategic Flyway – readbag.com and CMS – Flyway Working Group Reviews,
Attempts to co-ordinate global flyway information has been initiated with the formation of the Global Flyway Network in Australia, and a more widespread Global Interflyway Network GIN in Korea, some further progress has since been made Good Practice and Lessons Learnt – GIN – ramsar.org, but these current anomalies must be borne in mind when reviewing flyway details in the additional links given below, and also the anomalies explained in About Flyways @ awsg.org
Within our AWB Region from the Flyways Map we can see that the AWB Region is covered by The African – Eurasian Global Flyway which is composed of 4 Continental Flyways, predominantly:-
East Atlantic Flyway
Black Sea – Mediterranean Flyway
Asian – East African Flyway
and we are just within the western edge of the
Central Asian Flyway
Although outside of the AWB Region I include here a page for the EAAF Region to give a more complete picture of the migration patterns of Palearctic migrants right across northern Asia. Amazingly, some of them actually do perform this tremendous feat and migrate from Alaska across Siberia and the AWB Region to winter in Africa.
East Asian – Australasian Flyway
Details of some AWB Regional Flyways may be found below.
Bird Flyways and stopover Conservation Sites in the Arabian Peninsular
Siberian Crane Wetland Project – sibeflyway.org
SCWP Final Report – scwp.info
Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals – CMS
… Review 2 of Current Knowledge on Bird Flyways – cms.int
African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement – AEWA
… African-Eurasian Waterbird Census (AEWC) – africa.wetlands.org
… AEWC – Migratory Waterbirds – africa.wetlands.org
… AEWC Newsletter – eurosite.org
Wings Over Wetlands – WOW
… Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) – wetlands.org
… Protecting Migratory Birds through Flyway Conservation – unops.org
African Convention on the Conservation of Nature & Natural Resources
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora – CITES
OSPAR Commission – ospar.org
The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands – ramsar.org
… Eleventh Meeting of the Ramsar Convention – iisd.ca
Siberian Crane Flyway Conservation Program – sibeflyway.org
The Atlantic Flyway Network – birdcenter.org