World Migratory Bird Day, or WMBD for those in the know, is an awareness-raising event held twice a year on the second Saturdays in May and October. In 2020, it will be held on Saturdays 9 May and 10 October. Objective: through these two annual events, to raise awareness about the protection of migratory birds and their habitats… Neither one nor two, this is a mission for La Maison du Lac de Grand-Lieu!
WMBD, an international event
The event was initiated by three founding partner bodies: the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS), an international convention for the protection of migratory animal species, signed in 1979; the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA), the second treaty developed by CMS and the United Nations Environment Programme; and Environment for the Americas (ETA), an organisation working to conserve birds throughout the Americas.
The first edition of WMBD was held in 2006, organised on the example of the International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) celebrated across the American continent since 1993. Since then, each edition has included actions to raise public awareness and connect participants around the world: setting up educational programmes and exhibitions, organising conferences and beach and river clean-up sessions, visiting birdwatching sites, etc.
Each year its theme! While 2018 calls for international cooperation and 2019 tackles plastic pollution, the year 2020 celebrates those birds that “unite our world” by flying along its migratory routes. This theme also highlights the notion of ecological connectivity, i.e. all the links that exist between ecosystems, which are essential to their proper functioning and their ability to rebuild themselves. Ecological connectivity is essential for the survival of migratory birds and, more generally, for the protection of biodiversity and sustainable development.
WMBD’s objective: to raise awareness on the protection of migratory birds
A number of “World Days” aim to shed light on risk situations and endangered populations: WMBD is fully in line with this approach.
Migratory birds play a fundamental role in the balance of ecosystems: but their habitats are now being damaged and threatened, in particular by human activities, pollution and climate change. Each habitat constitutes a geographical area and has a very specific function for these birds, which travel thousands of kilometres each year: one enables them to feed, another to reproduce, yet another to winter, etc. The habitats of migratory birds are also very important for their survival. These geographical areas function as a network: only one of them is degraded and it is the entire migratory species that is in danger.
The objective of WMBD is therefore twofold:
- To inform the general public on the subject of migratory birds: what is migration? Which species are concerned? Why is it so important to protect their habitats? What are the threats to them? Etc.
- Raise awareness and alert: on the importance of protecting habitats given current threats, on the fragility of ecosystems and on the need for international cooperation to carry out these missions and protect species.
WMBD at the heart of our mission
Since 2017, La Maison du Lac de Grand-Lieu has been a member of the Migratory Birds for People (MBP), a network of more than 30 wetland awareness centres located on the flyways of many bird species in Europe and West Africa. Audrey Cadou, scientific mediation officer for La Maison du Lac de Grand-Lieu, also ensures the translation of MBP newsletters for French-speaking sites.
The actions implemented as part of WMBD are therefore fully in line with the mission of the Maison du Lac de Grand-Lieu: to enhance the value of wetlands, in Loire-Atlantique in particular and in the world in general.
Since 2018, WMBD is an opportunity for La Maison du Lac de Grand-Lieu and other MBP centres to organize collaboration between schools. In each centre, cycle 3 students (CM2 and 6ème) are welcomed for a day of awareness-raising on the protection of wetlands: educational activities, oriented on the theme of the WMBD year, are carried out throughout the day. At La Maison du Lac de Grand-Lieu, it takes place in collaboration with the managers of the national nature reserve (Société Nationale de Protection de la Nature) and the regional nature reserve (Fédération des Chasseurs de Loire-Atlantique).
In line with its mission of scientific mediation, this is an opportunity for La Maison du Lac de Grand-Lieu to carry out an environmental education and multidisciplinary project: science, geography and citizenship education, In 2018, each school worked on a migratory species that is emblematic of its environment (the White Spoonbill, for the pupils we received). In 2019, the participants were made aware of plastic pollution.
The WMBD at La Maison du Lac de Grand-Lieu
Two classes (from Bouaye and Loireauxence) had answered the call of Saturday 9th May 2020! And all the partners were already on the starting blocks. The temporary closure of La Maison du Lac de Grand-Lieu, in connection with the coronavirus epidemic, unfortunately does not allow us to set up and run this event.
Ecological connectivity: this 2020 theme is more than appropriate for the period of health crisis that we are experiencing at the beginning of this year. “Many bird species are in decline around the world, and the continued loss and destruction of nature is also linked to the types of infectious diseases we are currently fighting,” said Amy Fraenkel, Executive Secretary of CMS, on 28 April 2020. “We can use this time to reflect and reconnect with nature by committing ourselves to help migratory birds wherever they are.
The whole team of La Maison du Lac de Grand-Lieu is looking forward to catching up on the second session on Saturday, October 10th! It will be an opportunity to associate WMBD with an awareness of our modes of development and consumption, which we need to reason and make more sustainable; as well as with a collective reflection on solidarity between the peoples of the North and the South.
What can I do?
Until we can meet again, let’s follow the advice of the “World Migratory Bird Day”: each at his own level, we can all act and participate in the protection of migratory birds! They will tell you a great blackbird if
- Let’s make our gardens a nice place for birds and let’s provide them with shelters or water points (in summer). It is also possible to leave them food (in winter), but let’s make sure it is healthy and safe for them.
- Let’s keep an eye on our pets and make sure they don’t have access to bird-friendly areas.
- Let’s learn and communicate! Let’s learn about migratory birds and talk about it with those around us. Small discussions can lead to big changes, as a certain hummingbird would say.
- Let’s observe the birds around us to get to know them better. Certain applications such as BirdLab or NaturaList allow us to associate a playful and collective dimension to observation.
- Let’s take part in the “birds in your garden/in your city” photo competition and share our bird photos on social networks with the hashtag #birdsconnectus.
Visit the Great Place Lake website for further information.