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Madrid, 22/09/11 With this new project, which makes use of the most recent geolocation systems, SEO/BirdLife and the Fundación Iberdrola intend to gather and publicise more detailed information about bird migratory movements: for example, starting and finishing dates, stops along the way, feeding spots, how long these journeys take, if they migrate in Spring and again in Autumn, if the routes are the same from one year to the next, which species are actually sedentary and which are not.
We know that in recent decades, birds have altered their behaviour in migratory movements. Some species no longer cross the African continent or travel short distances on a local scale instead. These changes are thought to be partly due to climate change, which leads to warmer winters in breeding areas.
There are several different migration strategies, which depend on the species, the latitude where breeding occurs, the weather during the year, their historical distribution and many other factors.
Until now, almost everything that was known about migration was due to bird banding. However, the new technologies allow to gather much more information about bird location, with much more precise data. Although banding has its limitations as regards finding out all of the details of this phenomenon, it is still an indispensable practice for other aspects that contribute towards bird conservation.
The presentation on the project was attended by the Chairman of the Fundación Iberdrola, Manuel Marín, who announced it as a step ahead in the Foundation's firm commitment to carrying out projects to defend biodiversity and make an active contribution towards the recovery, enhancement and conservation of ecosystems and endangered species in the areas where the Iberdrola Group operates.
Mr. Marín added, "Nowadays, regardless of whether or not the source is renewable, producing and distributing energy has an impact on the surroundings. This impact varies depending on the type of installation in question. Although it is not always possible to eliminate this impact, it is absolutely necessary to work on minimising and offsetting it”.
Eduardo de Juana, Chairman of SEO/BirdLife, declared during the project presentation that the possibilities afforded by this type of technology are the best allies in bird conservation. "Setting up this new monitoring programme will in time reveal full details of the migratory patterns of all the birds that visit Spain at any time", he explained.
The Bird Migration Programme presented today will use three types of devices that will allow to post on the Internet the data obtained from the devices attached to several species of birds. In this 2011 season, around 79 birds were banded throughout Spain. These devices are costly and time-consuming to attach, which means that only a limited number of birds may be banded.
During the year 2011, SEO/BirdLife attached satellite emitters to 4 booted eagles. These devices record the birds' geographical location. This signal is forwarded by the satellites to a terrestrial reception centre that processes the data, calculates the locations and posts this very precise information on a website, almost in real time.
A further three booted eagles were banded using GPS data loggers.These devices record the bird’s location using a GPS and gather the data without forwarding it. Therefore, it is necessary to capture the animal again or come close to it in order to download and process the data.
A total of 30 great reed warblers, 15 European bee-eaters and 15 tawny owls were also banded using geolocators. These devices, which weigh about a gram, gather the readings from the photo-receiver and the associated time. The main drawback is that the animal has to be captured again in order to download the information.
These new banding systems record the bird's location several times a day over several years, which gives accurate information on how long they stay in their breeding and wintering areas, when they embark on their migration, where exactly they go, the speed and altitude of travel, how they are affected by mountains, seas or deserts and what locations they use to rest and boost their energy levels.
SEO/BirdLife and other collaborating bodies have also banded 26 common terns, 114 Cory's shearwaters and 30 Bulwer's Petrels. The information obtained from these birds will gradually be included on the bird migration website.
SEO/BirdLife, the veteran among wildlife conservation NGOs in Spain, has been working on a continuous basis for over 50 years. It now has over eleven thousand members who support its endeavours and take an active part in its initiatives. It has its headquarters in Madrid, eight regional (*) offices and around 40 local groups (*)in over thirty provinces that organise several activities.
With Ignacio Galán as Founding Trustee and Manuel Marín as Chairman, the Fundación IBERDROLA focuses its activity on three major areas: moving towards a sustainable energy model, cultural development in the countries where the IBERDROLA Group operates, and cooperation for development and solidarity.
For more information about Fundación IBERDROLA, visit the web page www.fundacioniberdrola.org