France prepares for annual bird migration events

Migrating cranes are just one of the species that will be travelling many kilometres this migration season

Almost 150 public events are to be organised in France early next month as part of this year’s EuroBirdwatch, the annual international celebration of European bird migration on October 6 and 7.

Organised by bird protection agency Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO), events will include conferences, exhibitions, and the opening of good bird watching areas to members of the public hoping to learn more and see birds in flight.

The LPO website contains a full list of national events.

EuroBirdwatch was first founded in 1993 by bird conservation group BirdLife International, with LPO the official representative of the event in France.

All EuroBirdwatch public events are free, and some will include lessons and advice from trained bird watchers, who will be able to help identify various species, their flight style - such as gliding or V-formations - and their migration patterns.

Events will also offer binoculars or telescopes to allow spectators to see in more detail. Some bird species and behaviour may even be visible to the naked eye.

France is actually a popular location for many species, due to its geographical position and diverse ecosystem; although not always for long: cranes pass over France in just 24 hours.

Many birds will fly many thousands of kilometres during their migration journey, depending on their winter-time needs and final destination; for example, the Arctic tern will travel over 70,000km in one year.

Some species fly directly south to Africa - such as the black-chinned hummingbird, which needs hot weather for its diet of insects; while others, such as the finch, do not travel as far, as they can continue to find food in Europe even in colder months.

France is also taking part in various other initiatives as part of the bird-focused events.

Electricity network RTE has notably developed a partnership with the LPO to help businesses take better account of the needs of birds in the environment.

On October 4 the project will complete the installation of a new high-line platform for the endangered white stork, and is to be unveiled by LPO President Allain Bourgain Dubourg and RTE Ouest representative, Carole Pitou-Agudo.

White storks are a protected species, and begin their migration journey to Saharan Africa from July onwards.

Taking advantage of the birds’ temporary absence, RTE will also secure the local electricity network around Ballon (Charente-Maritime, Poitou-Charentes) to ensure that birds do not encounter problems when flying near, landing on, or making nests among, electric wires.

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