World Migratory Bird Day | Submissions from cities

Mexico City, Mexico

In Mexico City, it is possible to observe 356 species of native birds, of which 47 species are in some local or international risk category. Of the total diversity, 120 species are resident. However, a large number of birds migrate or transit from North America to spend the winter, as the city is part of the central flyway, one of the four main routes. Due to this, it is possible to observe 235 species of birds that are in a migration category and that maintain resident populations in the city and also, 121 species that are exclusively migratory.

Migratory birds can find in Mexico City a variety of ecosystems such as forests, scrublands, wetlands and natural grasslands, as well as urban green areas where they can take refuge for several months and then return to their breeding areas. These natural ecosystems are protected in a System of Natural Protected Areas and of Environmental Value Areas, a Ramsar Site, two Important Bird Conservation Areas (IBA) and a complex network of urban green areas.

The Ministry of the Environment develops different activities to provide quality habitat where they can find places of refuge and resupply of food and water, so that they can survive and continue their trips. Hard work has been done restoring natural ecosystems and green infrastructure, establishing 44 million trees and other plants, as well as restoring more than 30 kilometers of rivers. In addition, community brigades are in charge of fire prevention and response, and the removal of waste and invasive plants. These activities are very important for the conservation of natural ecosystems and specifically for wetlands, since the water lily (Eichhornia crassipes) invades until it completely covers them, preventing the arrival of birds by perceiving it from the sky as a green area and not like a body of water.

Due to the lake origin of the city, 34 new wetlands (31.09 hectares) have been created and 722 hectares of these ecosystems have been restored, mainly in Xochimilco and Tláhuac, where the arrival of up to 220 species of birds has been recorded. Additionally, the Bird Beach has been created in the San Juan de Aragón Forest, which is visited by 192 species of birds.

30 million plants have been incorporated into conservation land and 14 million into urban land of 80 species, many pollinated by insects. More than 1,000 pollinator gardens and insect hotels have also been created, in collaboration with 979 trained women and community brigades, which represent a valuable source of resources for nectarivorous and insectivorous birds. This has been complemented by the promotion of agroecological practices in more than 12 thousand hectares and the recovery of 1 million square meters of chinampas, with the participation of more than 40 thousand people from ejidos and communities that inhabit these territories.

The biodiversity monitoring program developed by community brigades allows us to learn about the species that make use of green spaces, integrating citizens in bird watching and nature photography tours and other conservation activities. Thanks to the participation and interest of citizens in the care of urban wildlife, new species and large flocks have been registered.

Definitely, the birds that have surprised citizens the most are the American White Pelican, Wilson’s Phalarope and the Belted Kingfisher observed in wetlands and the flocks of Cedar Waxwing on urban land. Among the most charismatic insectivorous species are the Canada Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Hammond’s Flycatcher, Black-and-White Warbler and others.

Further reading

City Government of Puerto Princesa, Philippines

The City Government of Puerto Princesa initiatives thru the office of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (City ENRO):


Protected Biodiversity Areas

As the only Highly Urbanized City in the entire region of MIMAROPA, The City Government of Puerto Princesa find it critical to establish protected areas and other biodiversity reserves such as the Palawan Flora, Fauna, and Watershed Reserve (PFFWR), Magarwak Nature Research and Ecological Park (MNREP), Cleopatra’s Needle Critical Habitat (CNCH) and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) that help maintain natural ecosystems and support its community thru its ecosystem benefits. These areas harbor a rich diversity of flora and fauna, rivers, crees and streams, including endangered and threatened species, and serve as an important refuge for wildlife, including migratory birds. Protected areas serve as critical stopover sites where migratory birds can rest, refuel and replenish their energy reserves during long-distance migrations. These areas provide abundant food resources, safe roosting places, breeding grounds, and suitable habitat conditions for birds to recover from the ordeals of their flight during migration. By protecting these areas, Puerto Princesa ensures that migratory birds have suitable stop-over (resting) and nesting sites where they can “feed and rest” during their journeys.


Coastal Area Maintenance

Activities like mangrove planting through the “Love Affair with Nature” and CGPP’s Bays Conservation through coastal clean-up initiatives under “Save the Bays”, now on its 9th episode, contribute to the health of coastal ecosystems. Mangroves and bays are critical habitats for insects, numerous marine living things and other small organisms that form the base of the food chain. Puerto Princesa boasts a sprawling coastline spanning 416 kilometers, showcasing a rich diversity of landscapes. Additionally, the mangrove areas within the city cover a total expanse of 6,281 hectares. By maintaining these coastal ecosystems, Puerto Princesa City supports the availability of insects, which in turn supports migratory birds that feed on them.

Love Affair with Nature under City Ordinance No. 287, passed on December 26, 2005, is one of the City Government of Puerto Princesa’s local policy that is focused on rehabilitating and enhancing coastal area management. The said ordinance declared every 14th of February a yearly activity were the large City community participate in mangrove planting. Dubbed and institutionalized as “Love Affair with Nature”, it expanded Valentine’s Day’s expression of love from the customary person-to-person and added a concern to protect mother nature and as a continuing call to ensure the protection and sustainable use of the natural resources. The event heightens awareness of the people on the ecological role of mangroves and other coastal ecosystems in the vital web of life, (Hon. Feliberto S. Oliveros III, December 26, 2005, City Ordinance No. 287 of the 11th Session of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of the City of Puerto Princesa).


Establishment of Nurseries for (Endemic/Local) Forest Tree Species

Establishing nurseries for (endemic) forest tree species and fruit tress not only supports reforestation but also enhances the biodiversity of the locality. Trees provide a natural habitat for a variety of insects, creating a conducive environment for their reproduction and survival. As these forests grow and mature, they become attractive destinations for migratory birds, providing food and shelter. The maintenance of these nurseries provides support to our continuing efforts to reforest denuded areas, bolster private reforestation endeavors and help in providing accomplishment of the exacted Corporate Social Responsibility of our business community. The game plan is to provide these seedlings for free.

Reforestation efforts in Puerto Princesa City is already institutionalized as early as the year 1991 and celebrated annually thru an event called “Pista Y ang Cagueban” (Feast of the Forest) This yearly activity helped restore degraded areas, providing habitats for countless species of plants, animals, insects, fungi, and microorganisms. The efforts help restore and expand habitat for various species of endemic flora and fauna, promoting biodiversity conservation and supporting ecosystem resilience. This activity culminates the consciousness of the City’s inhabitants and a reminder of their responsiblity to help the Government restore its natural forest. City Ordinance No.216 formalized this activity and its annual observance.    


Avian Fauna Assessment in Protected Areas and Wetlands.

Given that birds are good barometer of a healthy environment, henceforth, the City Government of Puerto Princesa thru the Office of the City ENRO, essentially focuses on the conduct of periodic annual bird assessment to provide us key information, and data of these avian species to help us understand their role in our ecosystem. The information provided by this activity inculcate in our consciousness the importance of conserving avian fauna biodiversity, maintaining a balanced and healthy ecosystem, and sustaining the benefits that birds provide to society. Bird assessment involves evaluating the status, abundance, distribution, and trends of the bird population. Assessing bird populations such as migratory birds help prioritize conservation efforts by identifying bird species at risk of decline, also, monitoring bird populations provides insight into the overall condition of an ecosystem.

We made an extra step forward by embracing avian eco-tourism in the City to support our local bird assessment effort. We initiated in partnership with the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) the PPUR International Bird Photography Race in November 2015 and is still proceeding up to this year. This annual assessment event under the auspices of an eco-tourism activity, provided us records of both endemic and migratory birds. Data of migratory birds during this activity include rare and first country records. Additionally, the PPUR-IBPR contributes to the local circular economy of the City.

We participate in the annual Asian Waterbird Census with the National Government thru the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). City ENRO’s participation in these monitoring efforts contributes to the broader conservation goals and supports the establishment of key areas for migratory birds such as the Snake Island found in Honda Bay of Puerto Princesa City. Regular monitoring of migratory bird populations helps assess the health of habitats and identify the need for conservation efforts to preserve biodiversity. This data is crucial for understanding their migratory patterns, identifying threats, and implementing effective conservation strategies.


Environmental enforcement

The City Government of Puerto Princesa have invested in the field of enforcement. placed under the Office of the City ENRO are the Bantay Gubat (Forest Guardians), Bantay Dagat (Sea Guardians) and Bantay Bakawan (Mangrove Guardians). They are the government arm to impliment and impose obedience to the various environmental laws of the Republic and local policies. Their activities include the deterrent of wildlife trafficking, IEC and cooperation with local partners and the community.

Collaboration with Key Agencies: Working with organizations like DENR and PCSD/S promotes collaboration and the sharing of resources. It promotes a unified approach to bird conservation by combining expertise and data from various stakeholders. Through this collaboration, the following benefits are achieved:

  • Comprehensive Data Collection: Agencies often have more extensive resources and a broader reach, allowing for more thorough data collection and analysis. Our participation helps strengthen this collaborative network.
  • Policy and Regulation Support: Information gathered from monitoring activities informs government policies and regulations related to migratory birds. This collaboration can lead to better enforcement of conservation laws and regulations.
  • Public Awareness and Education: Joint monitoring efforts often include outreach to local communities, and raising awareness about the importance of migratory birds and their conservation. Our involvement helps educate others and promote a culture of conservation.

Contributing to Conservation Outcomes: It is our objective to directly contribute to the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. We are exerting efforts to work with other key partners and support local as well as global community to broaden our environmental objectives, enhance our capability and approach in biodiversity preservation, and widen our understanding of ecosystem health, and the sustainability of natural resources. The current effort of the City ENRO is the establishment of a new RAMSAR site within urban district. We are excited to pursue this project in collaboration with our local and international partners.

Cascais Municipality, Portugal

Cascais Municipality is located on Portuguese coastline, bordered by the Sintra mountains at the north side, and the Atlantic Ocean in the west and south sides. A large portion of municipality, over 28% of territory (2641ha), is inserted in Sintra-Cascais Natural Park and is part of Natura 2000 Network (Sintra/Cascais SCI PTCON0008), a protected area that extends from the coast to the mountains and interior plateau, with several different habitats present, including heathlands, mixed oak and pine forests, mediterranean matorral, dry grasslands rich in orchids, riparian forests and humid tall grasses, sand dunes and costal cliffs and reefs. Ecological network also includes small rivers inside urban areas, urban parks and peri-urban rural areas, as well as a local coastal protected marine area (AMPA). In addition, Cabo Raso Marine Site (PTZPE0061) is located along Cascais coastline and is an important feeding area for pelagic and coastal birds. All these natural areas provide stopover sites for several species during their spring and post breeding migrations. Over 130 migratory bird species have been recorded in Cascais, and around 40 migratory species recorded in Cascais municipality are insectivorous.

Cascais Ambiente is the municipal company for waste management, urban cleaning and ecological infrastructure management, and has been carrying out major efforts for keeping and improving city health, environment, natural resources and quality of life. Among many projects, several actions have been helping to preserve and improve birds and insects habitats and food sources, directly and indirectly.

Habitats management, ecological restoration and adaptation to climate change
Cascais Ambiente is responsible for managing and restoring several areas within Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. Quinta do Pisão, a visitation area rich in biodiversity has been actively managed and restored, acting as a pilot area with successful practices expected to be replicated into more areas. It is already possible to see the effects of these practices, as Quinta do Pisão supports highly diverse insect and bird populations, with over 90 bird species recorded during annual monitoring. Recently, Cascais Ambiente started a new project, LIFE ResLand, aiming to adapt natural park and rural peri-urban landscape to climate change, with actions focused on building resilience to wildfires and to improve and restore ecosystems. Major actions being implemented that are expected to promote biodiversity include:

  • Implementation of natural grazing and rewilding practices using roe deer, and native semi-feral breeds of sheep, donkey and horses to manage shrub vegetation, for
    decreasing fuel load and wildfire risk, while increasing vegetation
    diversity and complexity, increasing resources and attracting more insects and birds.
  • Sustainable management and restoration of native forests, riparian forests, and ponds, enhancing their ecological services and increasing the availability of natural habitats and food resources for other animals.
  • Monitoring of birds, pollinators and other biodiversity groups, as ecological indicators for assessing progress of the actions.
  • Work with local community and property owners for future replication of actions in private land.

Other habitat management actions include:

  • Implementation of nature-based solutions for forest pest management (ex.: Spongy moth) such as installation of bird nest boxes and bat shelters to attract natural predators, with high occupation rates over the years.
  • Implementation of cover crops in habitat and pasture edges for increasing food resources and for providing shelter for animals.

Raising awareness and involving the community for nature conservation
Cascais Ambiente has also been caring out extensive work with schools and local communities. Some examples of actions helping to preserve bird and insect habitats and increase awareness for their importance include:

  • Community and youth involvement in several environmental volunteering programs for conservation of forests, sea and coastal habitats (Oxigénio, Natura Observa, + Mar), and main activities are plantation of native trees and shrubs, manual removal of invasive plants, collecting garbage from small rivers and coastline, and construction of insect hotels and nest boxes for birds.
  • Educational projects at local schools and urban green spaces, such as Cascais BioUrbe project, that aim to raise awareness about biodiversity and ecosystem services, to improve local biodiversity and increase knowledge, with installation of nest boxes, bat shelters and insect hotels, among other actions.
  • Implementation of organic community gardens.