World Migratory Bird Day: Reducing impact of light pollution

World Migratory Bird Day on May 14 aims to draw attention to the issue of the well-being of migratory birds as they face problems of loss of habitat, climate change, poisoning, and illegal killing. Moreover, there is a need for protecting the habitat of the migratory birds which cross the national borders for various purposes including breeding, feeding, resting, and overwintering.
World Migratory Bird Day
World Migratory Bird Day is celebrated on two peak days each year (the second Saturdays of May and October) to highlight the need for international collaboration to ensure the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats globally.

First held in 2006 to promote the conservation of migratory birds and to counteract the negative publicity they were receiving across the world, due to concerns about their role as potential vectors of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) virus subtype H5N1 – now commonly referred to as bird flu. Since then World Migratory Bird Day has gained in popularity with over 2,000 events being organized in over 100 countries since the campaign’s inception.

The theme of this year is ‘Impact of Light Pollution on Migratory Birds’. Light pollution attracts and disorients nocturnally migrating birds, which causes them to land in areas where they are more vulnerable to collisions and other dangers. According to reports, at least 100 million birds die every year from colliding with buildings in the United States alone.

Further, artificial lights impact birds in the breeding and winter seasons, disrupting feeding and other vital behaviors. The theme of this year’s World Migratory Bird Day aims to create awareness in this regard and reduce the impact of light pollution on birds across the globe.

World Migratory Bird Day In India
On this occasion, a group of environment-focused organizations has joined hands to hold the Navi Mumbai’s, (Maharashtra) first-ever Flamingo Festival on May 14. Also, on the occasion, webinars and seminars dedicated to migratory birds are expected to take place in many countries including India, with educational programmes being offered virtually by many organizations including schools, parks, zoos, forests, wildlife refuges, wetlands, museums, and libraries.

Which birds migrate to India?
A number of foreign birds find shelter in India. At least, 229 species of birds arrive in the country every year including Asiatic Sparrow-Hawk, Harriers, Peregrine Falcon, Osprey, Pacific Golden Plover, Graylag Goose, Bar-headed Goose, Northern Shoveller, Tufted Duck, and more.

Birds like Bar-headed Goose fly over the Himalayas to reach India, while Wagtails, the African birds, are one to arrive early in India during the winter season. Rock Thrush too, migrates from the south of the Himalayas after leaving Siberia to the Western Ghats and hilly areas in the country.

However, in recent times, there has been a decline in the number of migratory birds arriving in the country and calls for protecting their habitat.

Government’s Initiative
-The government of India has drafted a 10-year plan, the Visionary perspective plan (2020-2030) that aims to protect birds and conserve their habitat, including those of the migratory birds coming to India. The draft proposes steps to protect migratory birds, conserve wetlands and focus on birds in urban areas.

-The National Wildlife Action Plan (2017-2031) also protects and conserves birds and their habitats.

-The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, MoEFCC’s India’s National Action Plan for Conservation of Migratory Birds and their Habitats along the Central Asian Flyway (2018-2023) aims to protect these birds.

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