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BirdLife action for migratory birds


BirdLife InternationalEvery year, migratory birds brave mountains, oceans, deserts and storms on their journeys to survive. Their epic flights connect us all - crossing our borders, cultures and lives. The variety of migratory birds is amazing. From storks, geese, eagles, swallows, cranes, ducks, penguins and gulls, an estimated 19% of all known bird species make regular cyclical movements beyond their breeding grounds with predictable timing and destinations.

BirdLife Partners around the world know that value of migratory birds, and are working together to provide a safer journey for migratory birds in crisis around the globe.



In 2008, 11% of migratory birds were classed by BirdLife International as globally threatened or Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. Red List indices show that these migrants have become more threatened since 1988, with 33 species deteriorating and just six improving in status.



Migratory birds are part of the biological diversity of our world and are often used as indicators for the biological health of our ecosystems. We rely on this variety of life to provide us with the food, fuel, medicine and other essentials we simply cannot live without and it is in our power to protect these resources and to safeguard biodiversity. 



The BirdLife Partnership is extremely well placed to undertake action for migratory birds. BirdLife Partners operate in over one hundred countries and territories worldwide, and work together to raise awareness about migratory birds and implement conservation projects. International collaboration is the only way to conserve migratory birds as they pass along their flyways. Click here to find your local BirdLife Partner.

The BirdLife Partnership is working across the globe to conserve our migratory birds in crisis. Click one of the following links to find out more about BirdLife’s work to help:


Lesser White-fronted Goose © Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)Waterbirds and Wetlands: Many species of migratory waterbirds depend on interconnected networks of wetlands. Wetlands which also benefit people by providing clean water and opportunities for fishing, agriculture, recreation and tourism. However, despite their importance, wetlands are amongst the world’s most threatened ecosystems. Find out more about BirdLife’s Flyways Programme and how they conserve waterbirds and wetlands. 


Lesser Kestrel © Neil Gray / WikipediaSoaring Birds and Landscapes: Soaring migratory birds – such as large birds of prey - glide between areas of rising hot air to aid their long-distance passage. This method, which cannot be used over large water bodies or high mountains, limits their potential routes and concentrates birds into corridors and through tight ‘bottlenecks’. This concentration makes soaring migrants highly vulnerable to localised threats. Find out more about BirdLife’s Flyways Programme and how it is helping to conserve soaring migratory birds.


Common Cuckoo © Greg & Yvonne Dean (WorldWildlifeImages.com)Celebrating Bird Migration: Bird migration is one of nature’s greatest miracles. The epic flights of migratory birds connect us all - crossing our borders, cultures and lives. BirdLife Partners engage in a number of activities to help you celebrate and enjoy the wonder of bird migration. Find out more about BirdLife’s Flyways Programme and how it celebrates bird migration.


Tristan Albatross © Marc Guyt (www.rarebirdsyearbook.com)Migratory Seabirds: Seabirds are adapted for flying great distances over open oceans and undertake some of the longest migrations in the animal world. However, seabirds - particularly albatrosses - are becoming increasingly threatened and at a faster rate globally than all other species-groups of birds. Many declines are closely linked to the expansion of commercial longline fisheries in seabird feeding areas, combined with the impacts of invasive alien species at nesting colonies. Find out more about BirdLife’s Global Seabird Programme. 


Sociable Lapwing © Ghulam Rasool Mughal (www.rarebirdsyearbook.com)Critically Endangered birds: The natural rate of bird extinction is one bird per century. In the last thirty years alone, 21 bird species have become extinct. At present, 192 are classified as Critically Endangered of which about 30 are migratory. Without immediate action, many will not be here in ten years’ time. They are truly migratory birds in crisis. Find out more about the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.


White Stork © giuss95/FlickrCase studies of conservation science and practice: The BirdLife State of the World’s Birds website outlines why birds and biodiversity are important and examines what we know about the changing state of the world’s birds, why birds are declining and what can be done to improve their status. It is a synthesis of our knowledge to date and provides a benchmark against which we can assess our efforts to conserve birds and biodiversity into the future. Click here to read case studies on migratory birds.