Jordan sees switch in birds’ migration caused by climate change

(Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — Among the effects of climate change in Jordan is a switch in birds’ migration times and trails, and the emergence of foreign species of flora and fauna, experts said.اضافة اعلان

Climate change causes extreme weather conditions, such as increased temperatures, flash floods and rain or snow, which comes at unusual times, Basheer Al-Ayasrah, manager of Dibeen Forest Reserve, told Jordan News on Sunday.

As birds react instinctively to weather aspects, some have started to be seen unusually in certain areas of Jordan, according to Ayasrah.

Jordan is one of the most important migration pathways, as birds usually move from East Europe to Africa and vice-versa through the Middle East every year, said the naturalist.

The Kingdom is considered an “ecological bridge” for bird migration across the continents of Asia, Europe, and Africa, according to data from the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN).

Birds fly through the Jordan Valley, the lowest part of the Great Rift Valley, benefitting from the raising air currents that facilitate their journey southward to the Red Sea and Africa eventually, Ayasrah said.

Seeking moderate weather, birds migrate according to temperatures along the year, in light of climate changes, especially increasing temperatures, birds would migrate in February instead of March, said the pundit.

Away from the Middle East, a recent study by the Joint Wadden Sea Secretariat said that, in addition to sea level rise, extreme weather events threaten habitats of migratory birds. 

Feras Al-Rahahleh, manager of Aqaba Bird Observatory affiliated with the RSCN, said that also food reserves along the migration path are affected by climate changes as the hikes in temperatures lead early bushfires, or the spread of certain invasive grass species over others.

During the past few years, changes in time of migration have been detected. Usually birds cross Jordan from mid-March to mid-April, this year, the movement was late to start only the first week of April until early June, according to Rahahleh.

The effects also include an increase or decrease in the numbers of migrating birds. April last year, the observatory recorded around 15,000 water rail (bird), which usually does not reach more than few hundreds, perhaps due the increase in temperatures in this time of the year.

In general, threatened habitats, which the case in many regions across the world, means threatened migratory pathways, said Rahahleh.

“Mainstreaming migratory soaring birds’ conservation in the five sectors of agriculture, hunting and tourism, waste management and energy in Jordan” is one of the RSCN’s current projects, aiming at preserving the Jordan Valley as one of the most important flyways for migratory birds in the world,” according to RSCN’s website.

Over 1.5 million birds of at least 37 species, including five globally endangered species, use the Rift Valley-Red Sea corridor between their breeding grounds in Europe and West Asia and wintering areas in Africa each year, according to the RSCN.

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