COVID-19 and Migratory Species |

How Have Migratory Species Been Impacted by COVID-19?

While people were complaining about the measures taken against coronavirus, migratory birds are benefiting from these measures all over the world. While bird watchers and hunters were indoors, the birds enjoyed more freedom. Migratory birds flying back to Siberia are relaxing in Pakistan while in Turkey the birds are freely migrating north to south.

The migratory species are now more than ever comfortable due to reduced human pressure on their rest areas. According to Can Yeniyurt, a Flyways officer and partner of BirdLife International, the birds also enjoyed the reduced number of flights in the sky. Due to this reduction in air travel, there was less of a risk of bird strikes.

Additionally, studies have also shown that more than ten thousand hedgehog roadkills significantly decreased in Poland compared to pre-Covid-19 years. People have also witnessed wildlife in unusual areas, including commercial waterways and huge cities. Reduced human noise, water activities, and air pollution are all likely factors in the increased wildlife sightings in major cities.

Which Migratory Species Have Been Affected?

At the New Jersey Shore, migratory birds gather for the same seafood and fresh ocean breeze that attract people. This time round, however, their journey was more epic thanks to numerous Ruddy Turnstones and Red Knots that travel thousands of miles to Delaware Bay to enjoy popcorn shrimp together with humans.

Other species joining them during the pandemic include the Laughing Gulls, Herring Gulls, Dunlins, Sanderlings, and Semipalmated Sandpipers. Most of these birds are obsessed with Horseshoe Crab eggs and they feasted on the bay’s bountiful supply while humans were in lockdown.

Is There Evidence to Suggest That Migratory Species May Have Caused the Pandemic?

Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that any of these migratory species may have caused or are spreading the pandemic as they migrate.

However, hunters, bird watchers, and the general public are advised to be cautious of eating harvest birds that might appear sick or dead.

How Can People Help Migratory Species During & After the Pandemic?

While the pandemic ebbs and flows -- with humans in and out of quarantine -- birds will be roaming free. To help keep the birds safe during the pandemic, people are advised to apply tempera paint to their outside-facing windows to help avoid collisions.

After the pandemic, migratory species will still roam. People are advised to avoid the use of neonic pesticides which are harmful to the birds and lethal to the insects consumed by birds.

If you have a wooded backyard, it's best to keep it as natural as possible. This shelters the birds while the fallen leaves, twigs, and branches provide shelter for the critters and insects the birds feed on. It’s also wise to remove invasive plant species, invest in native plants, and try to keep your cat indoors.