BirdLife: a powerful voice for nature
BirdLife News Round-up: April 2009
What’s your favourite bird song? If you get out early during the breeding season, you’ll be privy to a symphony of sound. Starting before sunrise, the dawn chorus builds to a crescendo of startling beauty, making birds the musicians of the animal world.
Perhaps one of the most famous of bird songs, at least for Europeans, is the Common Cuckoo. BirdLife started April with the news of how a remote population of cuckoos had been heard and filmed calling with a unique: “Ooo-Cuck, Ooo-Cuck”. Did you fall for our April Fools Day joke (Cuck-who? Amazing new call caught on video) with a serious message about migratory bird declines?
As the official IUCN Red List Authority for birds, we recently announced that on May 14th we will release the 2009 Red List update for birds. This year will see a number of species being uplisted – meaning their situation is getting worse – of which the Sidamo Lark Heteromirafra sidamoensis was the first to be released (The Red List 2009 is coming and Africa is in the spotlight).
However, we’ve had some great news to celebrate in April. Vultures in Europe have been starving because of a ruling which forced all dead livestock to be removed from the countryside. BirdLife has long been calling for decision makers to change this law, and we were delighted to report that the European Parliament have agreed new rules which allows carcasses to be left for the benefit of vultures (Dead animals back on the menu for vultures).
BirdLife was joined by European Commissioner for the Environment in April to celebrate 30 years of the EU Birds Directive. “It is self-evident that protecting birds needs effective international cooperation”, said Mr Stavros Dimas (Worldwide praise to EU for protecting birds).
BirdLife also had the ears of G8 environment ministers last month at a recent summit in Italy which resulted in strong actions being agreed for conserving biodiversity, mitigating and adapting to climate change, and reducing poverty. “The BirdLife Partnership welcomes the principles outlined in the Siracusa Charter on Biodiversity”, said Dr Marco Lambertini – BirdLife’s Chief Executive – as he addressed the G8 delegates (G8 ministers pledge support for biodiversity).
Nature Iraq (BirdLife in Iraq) has completed its fifth winter survey of Key Biodiversity Areas across the country which resulted in sightings of several Globally Threatened birds, and the discovery of an endemic sub-species of otter. We also heard how the Mesopotamian Marshes – of which 90% were drained under Saddam Hussein’s regime - have been extensively rehabilitated in recent years, and the wildlife has been flooding back with the water (Uncovering Iraq's unique wildlife).
We were delighted to announce that conservation action by La Société d'Ornithologie de Polynésie ‘MANU’ (BirdLife in French Polynesia) is really helping to save one of world's most threatened birds from extinction. As a result of recent efforts, all known pairs of Tahiti Monarch Pomarea nigra (Critically Endangered) have produced chicks. MANU have now been appointed the Species Guardian, and are receiving financial support from the BirdLife Preventing Extinction Programme (Conservation boost for Tahiti Monarch).
Conserving many species requires international action to work across physical and political borders. A solution by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI; BirdLife in Israel) to use Barn Owls Tyto alba and Common Kestrels Falco tinnunculus to control rodents - instead of using harmful pesticides - has spread from Israel into Jordan and the Palestinian Authority (by the Palestine Wildlife Society; BirdLife in Palestine). “The two species provide round-the-clock predation”, said SPNI’s Dr Yossi Leshem (Flying mouse-traps clean up fields).
Last month British Sea Power - a band nominated for the 2008 Mercury Prize for the best album from the United Kingdom or Ireland – enthralled fans by playing a unique composition inspired by migratory birds. “Seeing Swallows and Cuckoos returning each year from their mammoth journeys is a real highlight for us”, explained Martin Noble – the bands lead guitarist. “We’re delighted to support BirdLife’s Born to Travel campaign which is promoting migratory bird conservation” (BirdLife Likes Rock Music!).
A dawn chorus walk is a dizzyingly rich musical experience. Like musicians in an orchestra, each species has its own voice that combines with others to produce a wonderful symphony. BirdLife is formed by over 100 organisations, all with their own unique identity, which together form a powerful voice for change. BirdLife Partners have a combined membership of more than 2.5 million people, and manage more than 1 million hectares of the planet's richest wildlife habitat.
The BirdLife International Partnership certainly has a lot of good news to be singing about in April. Our raised voices were also heard by the world’s leaders, and with help from our supporters we will continue to deliver impressive conservation actions…