Migratory birds travel thousands of kilometres each year to find the best ecological conditions and habitats for feeding, breeding and raising their young. Migration is a perilous journey and involves a wide range of threats, often caused by human activities. Growing human population, rapid urbanization, pollution, climate change and unsustainable use of landscapes are causing the loss, fragmentation and degradation of the natural habitats upon which migratory birds depend.

As we celebrate these birds on 10 May, World Migratory Bird Day, keep in mind that all is not lost. While migratory birds–which include eagles, storks and cranes–are struggling, there are things we can do to help.

The UN Environment Programme suggests we pressure our elected leaders to build sustainable energy infrastructures in our cities:

Turning off non-essential lights in cities to help birds navigate their annual migration routes; placing power lines underground, or retro-fitting them to prevent fatal bird collisions and electrocutions are all examples of measures being taken to make the world’s expanding use of energy safer for migratory birds. These measures should be complemented by effective national legislation, planning guidance and policies that ensure the protection of birds from adverse effects of energy developments.

Furthermore, there are actions you can take at home.

  • Turn off lights when you’re not using them.
  • Do not hunt or trap endangered bird species (or any species!)
  • Refrain from buying poultry meat and other products made the leather or feathers of migratory species.
  • Recycle plastic, which often ends up in oceans.
  • Pick up the trash from your local marine and freshwater areas.