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Have you ever heard about the Finnish “Battle of Towers”?


The Battle of Towers is the epical name for a very important event organized by BirdLife Finland that has taken place every year in May since 2000.

The Battle of Towers will be fought on 7 May and this year the event will also be part of the World Migratory Bird Day.

In Finland there are over 400 birdwatching towers scattered all over the country, from Lapland to Helsinki. Every year on one morning in May hundreds of birders climb the towers at dawn. Then the “battle” starts and every team tries to observe or hear as many species of birds as possible, or at least more than the team at the next tower. The Battle lasts eight hours, from 5 am to 1 pm. In the meantime also people who are not actively participating can visit the towers to obtain information about birds and birdwatching. Moreover this huge event always attracts the attention of local media.

As you may guess the competition is not fair, because the distance between the southernmost and the northernmost towers can be over 1,000 kilometres and the difference in temperature at these places can be more than 30 degrees C.

However, all the teams are motivated and battle-hardened. Many birdwatchers like to compare results locally and regionally, as well as between years. Nevertheless usually the winning team comes from western or southern coast and clocks up about 110 species, while in Lapland, northern Finland, scoring over 50 species might be a great achievement, since it is still mostly winter there. The lowest record for eight hours of hard work is nine species!

Besides the entertainment the main purpose of the “Battle of Towers” is to promote birdwatching and the protection of birds. The event is usually also an opportunity to raise funds through participation fees: this year the funds will go to a conservation project for the Great Snipe (Gallinago media).

Among the teams that have registered their event on the WMBD website there is one called "Avosetit" on platform at the edge of the marsh in Yyteri, which is taking part in the competition for the 17th time in 2016! They have on occasion identified up to 107 species.

This year with 310 teams participating everyone should be prepared for an even tougher competition!

Good luck!!


At the following links there are some of the “Battle of Towers” events registered on the WMBD website:;;;



This article was written by Nicole Spada during her internship at the Common Information Management, Communication and Outreach Team of the UNEP/CMS and UNEP/AEWA Secretariats.


Photo credit: Jan Södersved