End of February 2003 spring migration of birds reaches the
CMS Secretariat. Birdcalls of common cranes flying in characteristic
V-formations mark the beginning of the new season. This
event shows one of nature's mysteries: the migration of
huge flocks of birds travelling long distances between Scandinavia
and Southern Europe or even North Africa. Up to 70,000 cranes
start their journey from their breeding sites in Northern
Europe and the Russian taiga in October. Most of the cranes
breeding in Germany, Sweden, Norway and Poland gather on
resting sites on the island of Rügen off the German Baltic
coast. They take the Western flyway heading for Spain's
biggest national park: the Extremadura.
The meadows with their cork and holm oaks offer excellent
feeding grounds to the cranes. They share the oak forests
with a variety of local animals such as wild boars, culvers
and others. In winter, tens of thousands of cranes can be
spotted in shallow waters such as the Laguna Gallocanta.
They spend the winter in these meadows until they start
forming up for their flight back in early March. Travelling
thousands of kilometres between the most remote areas of
the European continent requires a lot of endurance from
It also takes cross-border efforts to enable the birds
to pursue their migration. But they face numerous threats
such as declining habitats and food shortages. They need
new stepping-stones on their flyways and bodies of water
as alternatives to their traditional migration routes. CMS
will continue to enhance regional co-operation in order
conserve cranes and their habitats throughout their range.
Only then can we hope to welcome them back in October.