TIRANA, June 21
Poaching, captive hunting, poisoning, electrocution, collision are the main deadly threats that migratory birds face as they travel between their breeding and wintering grounds.
Meanwhile, 25 million birds are killed illegally every year. Hence, BirdLife International is telling the story of seven magnificent migratory birds and their epic journeys from Africa to Europe. #FlightForSurvival international campaign that focuses on the protection of migratory birds from illegal threats along the African-Eurasian Flyway was promoted through a large-scale projection in Tirana.
The Albanian Ornithological Society (AOS) organized a photo projection of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ on the main facade of the Polytechnic University at Mother Teresa Square.
The photo projection took place for several hours and attracted the attention of the public and passersby and for many among them, it was the first time to hear about some of the bird species featured in the project.
What are the magnificent seven?
The Egyptian Vulture / Neophron percnopterus / #MagnificentEgyptianVulture: Last breeding vulture in Albania with only five breeding pairs estimated for our country.
The Egyptian vulture is one of the few bird species to use tools, using pebbles to hammer open eggs as large as an ostrich’s. It is celebrated in the folklore of many cultures, having been admired throughout history for its intelligence, striking yellow face, and white plumage.
The ancient Egyptians worshipped it as a symbol of the goddess Isis and immortalized its silhouette as a hieroglyph in their writing. But the sacred bird of the Pharaohs now faces extinction.
The White Stork / Ciconia ciconia / #MagnificentWhiteStork: Only six breeding pairs of White Stork are accounted in Albania, as many breeding pairs as in the yard of a family in North Macedonia.
As the famous bearer of newborn babies to expecting parents, the White stork is a widely beloved symbol of good luck.
Instantly recognizable, with its black-tipped white feathers and long red beak and legs, it is a familiar sight across Europe where it commonly lives close to humans, perched high upon trees, poles or village rooftops. After painstakingly constructing huge nests with gathered sticks, migrating pairs often return to the same nest year after year.
The Turtle Dove / Streptopelia turtur / #MagnificentTurtleDove,
The turtle-dove has long represented love and fidelity in many European cultures. The strong bond between mating pairs have been a symbol of devoted lovers since the Renaissance, inspiring poetry, art and song – including the works of Shakespeare.
This little dove, with its distinctive chestnut and black flecked wings, was once a common sight, foraging around our woods and farmland for seeds. Yet its gentle purr that used to signal spring’s arrival in Northern Europe is falling silent.
The Common Quail / Coturnix coturnix / #MagnificentCommonQuail
Many keen birdwatchers have never caught a glimpse of the shy and elusive Common quail in flight. More often heard than seen, it keeps its small, round body well-hidden amongst farmland crops and grasses.
Up close, it has a distinctive streaky brown appearance with a thick white stripe along with its eyes. Given its tendency to creep away from danger rather than fly, many would be surprised to discover that this bird migrates over huge distances.
The Eurasian Blackcap / Sylvia atricapilla / #MagnificentBlackcap
With its neat cap of black plumage upon its head, the little male blackcap is quite unmistakable.
Though a woodland bird, it’s a common and much-beloved sight in parks and gardens across Europe, where it comes in search of fruit and berries. Bird lovers, fond of its beautiful song – a rich musical whistling with a wide variety of notes – would be shocked to discover the dangers this “mock nightingale” faces on its migratory journey.
The Honey Buzzard / Pernis apivorus / #MagnificentHoneyBuzzard
Though its Latin name Pernis apivorus means “bee-eating bird of prey”, the European honey-buzzard feeds mainly on wasps and hornets. This sharp-eyed raptor shifts around its woodland perch, restlessly ruffling its wings, as it waits to catch sight of its next meal. With long powerful talons and natural armor of scale-like feathers around the head, it is perfectly built to dig deep into a wasp’s nest and brave the stings of the angry swarm inside.
The Imperial Eagle / Aquila heliacal / #MagnificentImperialEagle.
With its two-meter wingspan, the flight of the Eastern imperial eagle is a striking sight. Equally impressive up close, it wears a regal crown of light gold upon its long brown body.
Unlike most eagles, it prefers the open countryside, building its nest upon a tall tree with a clear view. But this powerful predator has become the prey. After decades of persecution by humans, the Eastern imperial eagle is now one of Europe’s rarest raptors.
AOS aims at raising awareness among the citizens about the threats that those birds face during their migrations, thus making it a real fight for survival.
According to Birdlife, endangered species, already hit hard by habitat loss and climate change, are being pushed closer to extinction – and all in open defiance of the law.