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The Italian and Sardinian route of migratory birds.

World Migratory Birds Day. They feed up to double their body weight in a single week. They prepare for the journey, which can last from a week to four months: it depends on the route, the speed of the flight, the breaks. Many of them use the stars for orientation, and this is not an urban legend. It is the spectacle of migratory birds, able to fly from 20 to 1000 kilometres a day to guarantee a future for their species. There are about 2 thousand species of birds, 20% of all known ones, which migrate regularly, but more than 40% is declining and almost 200 are threatened. They must escape to poachers, waste, habitat degradation. The World Day of Migratory Birds, which this year is celebrated between 11 and 12 May, was created with the aim of safeguarding migratory bird species. Italy is an important route for their journey: situated in the middle between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic routes, the peninsula (and the islands!) is a sort of strategic resting place where birds can rest and find food before reaching the next stage of their journey. There are millions of birds crossing the coasts and passes to reach European breeding and nesting grounds. At the same time, there are other species that nest in Italy and hundreds of migratory species that cross Italy twice a year.

The wetlands of Maristanis and migratory birds. A theme of fundamental importance that also concerns the wetlands of the Gulf of Oristano and the Sinis Peninsula, where more than 100 bird species live: some are sedentary, others are migratory, come mainly from central Africa and stop in the Sardinian wetlands to reproduce or to stop and then leave for northern Europe. "Migration is also this, a surprise every day, the expectation and the possibility to see something special every day" says Maria Pala, expert in Environmental Sciences at the MEDSEA Foundation, who adds: "The islands are fundamental for migrants because they have a better climate, they are therefore rich in food, and in spring they are flowered and rich in nectar that feeds on many silvidia (especially). Wetlands are also essential because they too have plenty of food and water: they are "unique" resting places for many species. Some, such as the red-throated pipit, may come from the Taiga or the Siberian Tundra and stop in the salicornia plants or in the wet meadow to replenish the supply of fat. Or the whinchats that dot every asphodel in bloom during the rest days and, perhaps, after a beautiful starry night, disappear to continue the journey". "Due to its natural geographical position, Italy plays a particularly important role as a resting and transit area for Palaearctic-African migrants - explains Gabriele Pinna of Lipu di Oristano - Italy is a natural bridge across the Mediterranean. In recent days, insectivores such as swallows, bee-eaters, but also several species of terns and birds related to wetlands, from Africa have come to our region. A few days ago they were still in the African continent. Many of them have crossed the Sahara and the sea, covering thousands of miles, often non-stop, finding in our areas large quantities of insects and ideal habitats for their reproduction”.

Threats to migration. On the occasion of the 2019 edition of the World Day of Migratory Birds, the United Nations has called for action to stop pollution. The theme of the Day, this year, invites everyone to reduce the use of plastic, especially disposable, with the slogan "Protect Birds: Be the Solution to Plastic Pollution!". "One third of global plastic production is non-recyclable and at least eight million tonnes of plastic ends up in our seas, lakes and rivers," recalls Joyce Msuya, acting executive director of Un Environment. Birds mistake plastic for food, which causes them to die, and use the same plastic to make the nest, exchanging it for leaves, twigs and other natural objects, which can hurt and trap chicks. Seabirds, in particular, explains the Un Environment, are threatened by fishing gear such as nets in which they can get caught. The Un Environment stresses that joint efforts by governments, industry and consumers are needed to address the problem, particularly by reducing disposable plastics. More generally, along their journey for survival, migratory birds encounter several obstacles, both natural (predators) and related to human action (poacher's nets and hunters' rifles). Every year, 25 million birds in the Mediterranean basin are killed by poachers, mainly migratory birds, many of which are rare and endangered species.

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