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Africa
8 Sep 2016

Dear Africa, they’re in your hands now

Barn Swallow, by Vanesa Bezlaj, aged 15, from Slovenia was the winner of Spring Alive's drawing competition
Barn Swallow, by Vanesa Bezlaj, aged 15, from Slovenia was the winner of Spring Alive's drawing competition
By Shaun Hurrell

Dear friends in Africa,

We’ve done our best. Now they’re all in your hands.

We’ve put up nest boxes and watched them grow. We’ve helped feed them. We’ve planted flowers. At school, we’ve learnt their colours, we’ve drawn them, and cheered as they’ve flown past.

They are so fast! They make a ‘swoosh!’ noise over our heads as they catch an insect. I couldn’t wait for my turn to try and watch them with my binoculars.

But now they have left. I was sad at first, but then the Spring Alive lady told me that they are just ‘on loan’ from Africa and need to move somewhere warmer for the winter. So now the chicks we watched grow will have to fly all that way.

If they arrive safely, they will be very tired. So make sure there is lots for them to eat (they’re your friends who eat the insects that eat farm crops or bite you!) So please tell everyone not to harm them, and keep green areas for them to live.

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I hope to visit you one day and see them roost near you in a big tree. They say in Durban they roost in their millions! But they only will if we keep looking after them.

So now, it’s up to you.

Please look after our migratory birds.

Let me know what you see and do! Send me some pictures or drawings.

Thank you,

Europe

Children all over Europe and Central Asia are now having these kinds of thoughts as they wave goodbye to Barn Swallows, which are beginning to gather before theuir annual migrations south. This also marks another successful season of Spring Alive, a BirdLife educational project that encourages children and adults to take care of the migratory birds they learn about.

“At this time of year, we ask the people of Africa to celebrate and care for their amazing migratory birds; and the people of Europe and Asia will return the favour next spring,” says Karolina Kalinowska, Spring Alive Coordinator.

Barn Swallows from Europe spend the winter in Africa south of the Sahara, in Arabia and in the Indian sub-continent. Their wide range also makes them great ambassadors that link many countries in their migrations, with initiatives such as Spring Twins which pairs schools in Africa and Eurasia.

Rebeka Barbale, 15, from Latvia

Chicks watched raised by Rebeka Barbale, aged 15, from Latvia, who painted this Barn Swallow family, will soon be flying over to Africa

As well as the Swallow theme this year, every season by posting their first sightings of Barn Swallow, White Stork, Common Cuckoo, Common Swift, and European Bee-eater on the www.springalive.net  website, children from Europe, Central Asia and Africa create a real-time map of the incredible journeys these birds take every year. 

This year’s theme is Swallows of My Neighbourhood. One of the most familiar birds in the world is declining, but instead of being negative let’s celebrate the swallows of our neighbourhood, because they give a great start for young people to care about conservation.

All along their migratory routes, children and adults will be excitedly preparing for the arrival of swallows and other birds with Spring Alive, which launches its 2016 African season in September.

Read more here

Find out how to participate in Swallows of My Neighbourhood with Spring Alive

Go to www.springalive.net and access your national page for more information