Our migratory bird projects

Globetrotters under fire

Protecting Europe's birds, not only in their breeding grounds but also on their migration routes, was the concept that led to the founding of EuroNatur. Even now, the protection of wild birds remains one of our most pressing challenges. In particular, the issue of bird hunting in the Balkans is proving to be an ongoing problem. Every year, around 25 million birds are illegally killed in the Mediterranean - about two million of them in the Western Balkan states. So far, there are only a few resting places where migratory birds are really safe there.

Many years ago, EuroNatur launched a program to protect the wetlands on the eastern Adriatic as well as the migratory birds which stop there on the long journey between their summer and winter habitats. Since then, we have been working intensively with our partners to put a permanent stop to the bird killing which occurs every year, and to preserve the habitats of migratory birds across borders.

Adriatic Flyway: Dangerous Route for Europe's Migratory Birds

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What EuroNatur and its partners are doing to fight illegal bird hunting and what we have been able to achieve together:
  • Keeping an eye on bird populations: Regular population surveys in important resting areas form the basis for being able to take early action to counter negative developments and to monitor the success of conservation measures.
     
  • Putting a stop to the activities of poachers: At night, our partners are looking out for poachers or bird sound devices. Once they have located them, they call the police. Cooperation between bird conservationists and local law enforcement agencies is bearing fruit. This can be seen from the joint work being done to dismantle illegal hunting lodges in several countries along the Adriatic Flyway. Now, some countries have even set up special police units to combat environmental crime.
     
  • Creating synergies: We have established the “Balkan Bird Crime Task Force”. Using an online portal, its purpose is to quickly and easily share information and evidence on illegal bird hunting with project partners, and to coordinate appropriate actions.

Partners: BirdLife International, VCF, IUCN-Med, Tour du Valat, BPSSS, HDZZP, Biom, Ornithological Society Naše ptice, CZIP, MSJA, PPNEA, AOS, DOPPS, MES, WWF Spain, WWF Greece, ATN
Funding: MAVA Foundation, Natum Foundation, EuroNatur donors, EuroNatur sponsors

Make the journeys of our migratory birds safe!

Every year around 25 million migratory birds are caught or killed in the Mediterranean area. As a migratory bird sponsor, you can make an important contribution to the survival of our migratory birds.

Mailing "Bird Crime in Albania" (1/21)

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A candy for migratory birds - Lake Ormoz (Magazine 1/21)

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Last Song for Migrating Birds (Interview with Jonathan Franzen, Magazine 3/13)

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Saving the Ulcinj Salina

The Ulcinj Salina, situated in the far south of Montenegro, is one of the most important wetlands in the Balkans. Every year, in spring and in autumn, thousands of wading and waterfowl rest in the shallow salt pans there, replenishing their energy reserves for the strength-sapping onward flight. The salina is also a very important breeding area. But this eldorado for birds is under threat; the Ulcinj Salina has become the subject of speculation by investors looking to make a quick profit! And following the closure of the salt works in 2013, the area has been losing its attractiveness to salt-loving bird species because fresh water is no longer being pumped out of the salt pans.

 

Welcome to the land of birds

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What EuroNatur and its partners are doing to save the Ulcinj Salina and what we have been able to achieve together:
  • Placing the salina under protection: Thanks to the long-term commitment of EuroNatur and its many partners, the salina was declared a Nature Park in June 2019 and was also designated an internationally important area for wading birds and waterfowl (Ramsar area) in July 2019. Now the groundwork needs to be laid for the revitalisation of the saltworks.
     
  • Promoting ecotourism: Together with our partner organisations and the local population, we have been developing business ideas for low-impact ecotourism around the Ulcinj Salina. Eligible projects have been selected.

Small grant projects for sustainable regional development

The salt village

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Reborn by Adventures

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The Taste of Ulcinj

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  • Lobbying in Brussels: Montenegro wants to become a member of the European Union. In Brussels, we are arguing that effectively protecting the Ulcinj Salina should remain a condition of the country’s accession. Thanks to our efforts, the protection of the salina was included in the EU’s catalogue of requirements.
  • Supporting sympathetic politicians: Due to international pressure, the Montenegrin government has put the Ulcinj Salina on its agenda. Among other things, it wants to finally settle the disputed question of ownership of the site. We are following this process and, if necessary, we will remind the officials in Podgorica of the need to stick to their promises.
  • Improving living conditions: We are supporting our partners with restoration measures in the salina so that salt-loving flora and fauna can re-establish themselves there. At the same time, we also want to improve the living conditions of local people. We are campaigning for low-level salt production to be resumed and for the people of Ulcinj to have a reliable opportunity for employment. We are also supporting projects which promote sustainable tourism in the region.

Partners: BirdLife International, IUCN-Med, Tour du Valat, CZIP, MSJA
Funding: MAVA Foundation, EuroNatur donors, EuroNatur sponsors

 


Livanjsko Polje - Landscape of superlatives

© Borut Stumberger

Not far from the Adriatic in the Split hinterland a landscape of superlatives lies hidden: The Livanjsko polje is not only the largest wetland in Bosnia but also the largest regularly flooded karst field in the world. Over centuries, in complex processes of dissolution, water has eaten into the limestone rock of the Dinaric Alps and formed a huge plain of 400 square kilometres (or roughly 155 square miles) a so-called karst polje (polje being the word for a plain or field in the Slav languages). Water flows underground into Livanjsko polje from several other plains which lie at higher elevations in the Dinaric Alps, as it were on a ladder of levels, each one roughly 150 metres higher up.

Karst Poljes - A chance for sustainable development

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Multicoloured carpet of diversity

blooming meadow in Livanjsko Polje
© Davorka Kitonic

Being encircled by walls of steeply rising mountains allowed the plain to develop into a veritable carpet of brilliantly coloured but highly sensitive habitats: reed beds, fens and grassland lie close together and contain a great diversity of species. About one fifth of the Livanjsko polje is covered in old-growth forests of alder, pedunculate oak and ash in which rare predators such as the Lesser Spotted Eagle and Short-toed Snake Eagle breed. The grasslands around the Zdralovac (or Crane) fens in the north of the polje are home to the largest distribution of the Corn Crake in Southern Europe.

The large expanses of water in this natural water reservoir but also its marsh vegetation and alder carrs offer resting and breeding sites for numerous waders and water birds such as Bittern and Montagu's Harrier. For Cranes and other migratory birds on the Adriatic Flyway Livanjsko polje provides a resting place of inestimable value.

Partners: “Nase Ptice” (Our Birds) Bird Protection Society, Center for Environment (CZZS)
Funding: MAVA Foundation, EuroNatur donors and sponsors

 


The white stork: a striking and popular migratory bird

© Michael Fantinato/EuroNatur

The white stork is certainly one of the most charismatic bird species in Europe. Although the stork has been a cultural follower for centuries, its whereabouts during the cold season remained a mystery to people for a long time. Now the migratory behaviour of white storks has been thoroughly researched. Storks fly to their winter habitat via two routes. A so-called flyway boundary, which runs through Germany, roughly along the Elbe river, separates the birds which take the eastern migration route from those which take the western one. The western migration route leads to the Iberian Peninsula and some birds then continue on to Morocco, and from there to Central Africa. The eastern route crosses the Balkans, the Bosphorus, the Middle East and on to East, Central and South Africa. On their long migration route, the storks are exposed to numerous dangers such as power lines, lack of food and shooting.

 

A network for storks

In Europe, the white stork is not threatened by poaching. Here, land use change is the main risk facing the bird. Extensively farmed meadows and pastures are now scarce in Europe. Today, meadows are usually mowed too early in the year and too often. In addition to plants and insects, frogs, lizards, mice and moles are also suffering from the effects of intensive agriculture and, as a result, the stork’s basic food source is disappearing. EuroNatur is seeking to offset the increasing loss of habitat for storks in Europe through the “European Stork Villages Initiative”. Since 1994, the Foundation has been awarding the title of “European Stork Village” to one stork village per country. Candidates include villages or communities where storks live in colonies, and which are particularly committed to stork protection, for example, by extensively managing vast areas of wet grassland. Through the distinction of being a site of special cultural and natural heritage, the villages become internationally well known. This is serving to reinforce successful approaches to stork protection.

Details about the European Stork Villages Network can be found on our ESVN-website.

What EuroNatur and its partners are doing to protect the white stork and what we have been able to achieve together:
  • Protecting stork habitats: We are establishing demonstrative pilot projects that show how species-rich meadows and pastures in Europe can be permanently preserved in order to provide storks with sufficient habitat in the cultivated landscape.
     
  • Reinforcing positive role models: We are honouring villages or communities that are particularly committed to protecting storks. These villages are seen as national trailblazers in matters of stork conservation. We also organise regular meetings of the Stork Villages, where successful approaches to stork conservation are shared. A key objective in Stork Villages is educational work. We want to spark enthusiasm for storks and draw attention to the threats they face.
     
  • Preventing electrocution: We want to reduce deaths from electrocution and collision by making existing power lines safe. In close cooperation with network operators, we are working to ensure that, in future, power lines are mainly laid underground.

Storks in distress!

Summers which are too hot and too dry make it difficult for white storks to breed. In times of climate crisis, it is more important than ever to preserve existing wetlands. Please help our storks by making a donation!

Partners: Ciconia Foundation, Gesellschaft Storch Schweiz, European Stork Villages and their national nature conservation partners
Funding: RHW Stiftung,
Pancivis Foundation, Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation, Bristol Stiftung (Switzerland), Manfred-Hermsen-Stiftung for Nature and Environment, Fondation pour la Sauvegarde de la Nature, EuroNatur donors and sponsors

 


What EuroNatur and its partners are also doing to protect Europe’s birdlife and what we have been able to achieve together:
  • Breeding islands for Dalmatian pelicans: EuroNatur is working to secure the last breeding grounds in Europe for the very rare Dalmatian pelican, and to establish further stable breeding colonies. This is being done, for example, with the help of breeding rafts on which the pelicans can find safe conditions to breed.
     
  • Returning endangered species to the wild: In Bulgaria, we are involved in projects for lesser kestrels and cinereous vultures. The wide-open spaces of the Sakar Hills and the wild gorges of the Balkan Mountains provide ideal habitats for these two very different bird species. Young birds are being raised in captivity to support low numbers in the kestrel and vulture populations.
     
  • Preventing poisoning: One of the most common causes of death for birds of prey in the Balkans is poisoned bait. This is actually intended for wolves, jackals and wild dogs but scavengers like vultures and kites often spot the bait first and die a cruel death from poisoning. We are committed to tackling this illegal practice through nationwide controls.

Join in and help us!

Join the many people getting actively involved to save Europe’s migratory birds. We are grateful for any donation or active contribution you can make! In doing so, you are supporting an independent and networked civil society in Europe, which is campaigning vigorously to protect our migratory birds. Please help us any way you can! 

How you can help

Donation

Future needs nature. EuroNatur cares for it. Please use your possibilities to help. With your donation you will make an effective contribution to protect birds in Europe.

Migratory Bird Sponsorship

Bird migration is an incomparable natural spectacle. But illegal hunting and the destruction of resting areas endanger the birds. Help make their journey safer.

News

Resistance Against Construction of Airport in Albania

Despite constant pressure from national and international NGOs, the Albanian government is sticking to the construction of a major airport near Vlora…

Ulcinj Salina: 2 Years RAMSAR Site

Two years ago, on 10 September 2019, the Ulcinj Salina in the South of Montenegro was declared as a RAMSAR site, a Wetland of International…

First cinereous vulture chick ringed in Bulgaria

After more than fifty years a cinereous vulture chick was born in the Balkan Mountains this spring. At the end of July, our Bulgarian partners…

Ulcinj Salina remains state property

For years, the issue of the ownership of the Ulcinj Salina remained unresolved. Today, the Privatisation Council in Montenegro unanimously decided to…

Cinereous vulture shot dead in Hungary

A cinereous vulture shot down in Hungary was part of the Bulgarian reintroduction programme supported by EuroNatur. This is a painful blow for the…

Bird paradise in Albania threatened by construction of an airport

++ An airport is to be built in the Narta Lagoon on the Adriatic ++ A stopover site of major international importance for migratory water birds ++ 8th…

Valuable marshes in Poland endangered by mining project

The Australian company Balamara has plans to mine for coal in the Polish region of Lubelskie. This is not only harmful to the climate, but also…

Change in government in Montenegro brings new hope for Ulcinj Salina

++ Montenegro’s new government is intending to afford effective protection to Salina Ulcinj ++ On 2nd February it is World Wetlands Day ++ Ramsar…

Poor breeding season for storks

++ Only a few storks have fledged in Europe’s stork villages ++ Extremes of weather cause problems for the storks ++ Conservation of green wetlands…

At long last: The EU bans lead shot in wetland areas

Good news for Europe’s water birds: hunting in wetlands with toxic lead shot is to be banned. So, every year in the EU about 1.5 million water birds…

A first for Croatia: a person appears in court accused of poisoning wild animals

At the beginning of the year there were several cases of wild and domestic animals being poisoned in Croatia. Now a 52-year old has appeared in court,…

Failure of lead ammunition ban caused by Julia Klöckner's ministry

The Europe-wide ban on hunting with lead ammunition failed to gain approval last week – due to opposition from the Federal Ministry of Food and…

Ulcinj Salina: One year of nature conservation - few things happened

One year ago, Ulcinj Salina was designated as a nature reserve – a great success for us and our partners. While it sounds good on paper, in practice…

Breeding record for Dalmatian pelicans

No sign of spring fatigue: for the Dalmatian pelicans of the Albanian Karavasta Lagoon the breeding season is in full swing. The number of pelicans…

Wild bird crime in Serbia is threatening the populations of migratory birds

++ Bird migration is already in full swing ++ Many birds are falling victim to poachers in the Balkans ++ EuroNatur and their Serbian partner…