Migratory Bird Day: the importance of insects

Migratory Bird Day: the importance of insects
Migratory Bird Day: the importance of insects

World Migratory Bird Day 2024 (May 11) highlights the relationship between migratory birds and insects amid alarming declines in both groups of animals.

World Migratory Bird Day is a global campaign that aims to educate and promote conservation efforts of migratory birds and their journeys across borders. It raises awareness of the challenges facing birds and encourages conservation actions around the world. World Migratory Bird Day sparks hundreds of educational events around the world, events united by their common goal of raising awareness and advocacy for the international protection of birds. Each year, the campaign presents a central theme, inspires action and coordinates global efforts to save migratory birds and their habitats.

This year, the focus is on the importance of insects for migratory birds. Found in almost every ecosystem around the world, insects are essential food sources for migratory birds during their long journeys. Migratory birds often time their migrations based on the abundance of insects. They depend on these insects for food during migratory stopovers, to reproduce and to feed their young.

The harsh reality discovered in recent years is that insect populations are in sharp decline, which goes hand in hand with the decline of bird species whose survival depends on insects. An analysis published in the journal Science found that we are losing about 9% of the world’s insect population every decade. Deforestation, intensive agriculture, excessive use of pesticides, light pollution and climate change are the main factors driving this trend. The United States and Canada have observed a decline in avian populations, with a significant drop of 29% in bird populations since 1970, which equates to approximately 2.9 billion fewer birds.

This year’s World Migratory Bird Day theme, “Protect the Insects, Protect the Birds,” is an opportunity to raise awareness, educate and learn about the importance of insects. This day coincides with rare and fascinating insect-related events, such as the emergence of two-branched cicadas in North America and synchronous fireflies in Smoky Mountains National Park, which will likely occur in late May or at the beginning of June. In other parts of the world, the migration of the ‘wandering glider’ dragonfly (Pantala flavescens) is notable for its remarkable impact on the journey of the Amur falcon (Falco amurensis) across Asia and Africa. In Europe, the decline of the black flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) has been linked to food shortages due to climate change, with the birds now frequently arriving in European forests after the caterpillars evolved into insects that their nestlings cannot eat. The consequences of this shift in the calendars of these phenomena have already been published in the journal Nature in 2006.

On the occasion of this day, citizens around the world are invited to participate in events organized as part of World Migratory Bird Day 2024 and adopt simple but effective strategies to protect insects and birds.

Read this article on the World Migratory Bird Day 2024 website.

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