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Statement by Ms. Beccy Speight on World Migratory Bird Day 2021

Ms. Beccy Speight
Chief Executive Officer  
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) 

Just saying aloud the theme of this year’s campaign,  Sing, Fly, Soar – like a bird,  immediately feels uplifting and reminds us of the fantastic freedom our birds represent. I think it’s one of the reasons they bring us so much joy.   The last 12 months have been challenging for all of us, across the globe, and our hearts go out to all those suffering in the midst of pandemic waves.  Our migratory birds remind us of what we have in common – they stitch our world together.  Whilst our returning migrant birds are always much celebrated here in the UK, I feel in 2021 their reappearance has been more eagerly  anticipated than ever, bringing with them Spring and the hope that we are slowly and tentatively moving closer to some greater freedoms of our own.  

There’s wonder in hearing the first cuckoo and seeing the first swallow darting across our skies, knowing that they have also given comfort and pleasure in countries far and near and along their long, often dangerous journeys north.  

World Migratory Bird Days remind us that our local swifts and martins, our warblers and wheatears, our terns, turtle doves, nightjars and nightingales are not just ‘our’ birds, but birds of the world, without borders, who can offer the same watching pleasure across not just countries but continents, linked into their vast flyways. 

And as we hear their songs and watch their mastery of the air, it is also a timely reminder of the help these birds need. As well as enjoying them, we need to use the feelings of hope they bring to inspire us to action on their behalf. Many of these species face a multitude of threats, from unsustainable hunting to lack of habitat and food at all stages of their year – on breeding grounds, on migration routes and wherever they winter. We need to recognise we share this planet with other species and take responsibility for where our actions are driving the nature crisis.  

We know from our research that lockdowns have reawakened interest in and love of nature for many, and that we’ve found both solace and pleasure there.  My hope for our World Migratory Bird Days in 2021 is that we feel this connection more sharply than ever as we watch and listen to birds, and that together, we act to save them. 

At the RSPB, we’re proud to work with partners around the world to protect nature and we understand the great power of numbers. The more of us who act, the better chance we have of reversing the nature and climate emergency our planet is in – to revive our world.  From Kunming to Glasgow, 2021 is a huge year for nature, a chance for leaders to come together and make decisions which will truly protect and restore our world.   

Let’s celebrate our birds on May 8th and October 9th and enjoy being uplifted by their fleeting presence in our lives, and then let’s work together to ensure they are here for future generations to enjoy them too.

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