Protecting wetlands and insects: vital ecosystems and nourishment for migratory birds

World Migratory Bird Day, celebrated on 11 May, reminds us of the incredible journeys migratory birds make around the world. This year’s theme highlights the importance of insects in the lives of these birds and the urgent need to protect insect populations that sustain them.



Insects, those small yet powerful creatures, are crucial for migratory birds’ diets, providing essential nourishment during their challenging migrations and their breeding periods. A study published in The Science of Nature Journal estimates that insectivorous birds consume an estimated 400–500 million tons of prey annually. However, the alarming decline in insect populations poses a serious threat to migratory birds, upsetting the fragile balance of their ecosystems.

Photo: ©Beto, Pixabay


Wetlands, often referred to as the “biological supermarkets” of our planet, play a pivotal role in supporting both insects and birds. These vibrant ecosystems provide a haven for a myriad of insect species, from dragonflies to caddisflies, which in turn serve as a vital food source for birds. Additionally, wetlands act as natural filters, purifying water and mitigating the impacts of floods and droughts, making them indispensable for both wildlife and humans alike.


A migratory bird in a wetland. Photo: © Andrei Prodan, Pixabay


The loss and disturbance of wetlands, along with the decline in insect numbers, have serious implications for migratory birds. Intensive farming, habitat destruction, drainage, pollution, and climate change threaten the very existence of these crucial ecosystems, depriving birds of essential resources for survival. Without healthy wetlands teeming with insect life, migratory birds face dwindling food sources, making it harder for them to complete their remarkable journeys and reproduce successfully.

Preserving wetlands isn’t just about protecting the habitats of migratory birds; it’s about safeguarding the intricate web of life that sustains our planet. By conserving wetlands and restoring degraded ecosystems, we can ensure a brighter future for migratory birds and countless other species that depend on these vital habitats. To do that it is essential to revise the use of pesticides and herbicides to preserve insect populations and to implement bird-friendly farming practices. Establishing protected areas and migratory corridors would make a significant difference. But all this will be possible only by fostering public awareness and promoting international cooperation for comprehensive conservation efforts.

World Migratory Bird Day serves as a rallying cry for action, urging individuals, communities and governments to come together in the fight to preserve these invaluable ecosystems for generations to come.


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