Our pallid swifts overwinter in Benin and Nigeria
Zaragoza has the honour of being the first Spanish city to know where the pallid swifts that brighten its skies during the spring and summer spend the winter months. This is all thanks to the MIGRA programme, which was set up in order to learn more about the migration patterns of Spanish birds. The programme is run by SEO/BirdLife and counts on the support of the Fundación Iberdrola España.
The pallid swift, a close relative of the popular common swift, is still a great unknown as far as its migration is concerned, but for the first time this year, we know the exact itinerary of this journey. This is thanks to a pallid swift from Zaragoza, which was tagged in its nest in early July 2015. After leaving its breeding grounds, it reached its destination, located along the border between Benin and western Nigeria, in just a few days. It spent the winter months feeding in this area of savannah and jungle, more than 3,600 kilometres from Zaragoza, where it returned in April 2016. The details of this journey can be viewed at: www.migraciondeaves.org.
It is still necessary to wait a little longer to discover whether other Spanish swifts spend the winter in the same overwintering areas. Over the next few months, the programme will attempt to recapture the pallid swifts that were tagged in 2016 in order to obtain more information. Therefore, little by little, these small birds, tagged as if they were spies, will reveal their incredible migratory patterns to us.
This initiative run by SEO/BirdLife incorporates the latest technologies in geolocation and remote monitoring systems to learn more about the birds’ movements, both in Spain and abroad. The programme currently has 740 tagged birds from 32 different species. It offers information on the start and end dates of their migrations, the places they stop and their feeding points, the time it takes to make these journeys, the main wintering and dispersion areas. It also provides information on whether the routes taken are the same year after year.
Iberdrola’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) encourages its Foundation to continue to support the Migra Programme in order to fulfil the 14th Goal, dedicated to the conservation of ecosystems. This collaboration of the Foundation with SEO Bird Life, directly contributes to the achievement of its goals: “to adopt urgent and relevant measures to reduce the deterioration of natural habitats, to stop the loss of biodiversity and protect endangered species from extinction.”