The Maltese have a fascination for killing migratory birds, and this is evident in their obsession with the avifauna of Malta. This article will take a look at the island’s 420 species of birds. In it, the author discusses the causes of this practice and identifies practical conservation methods. While this article is only a brief overview of Malta’s bird life, it should give readers a good understanding of the island’s diverse birds.
The avifauna of Malta
The avifauna of Malta comprises 420 species. Because Malta is situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, it is an ideal staging post for many migrants and migratory birds. This book includes a detailed list of local birds and bird records from various sources, including prehistory and art. The book also speaks about the importance of birds to Maltese culture and includes photographic records of many species. The book includes some unpublished records from 1958.
Among the 170 species of birds that stopover in Malta are flamingos, pelicans, ibises, vultures, sandpipers, and storks. The white and black storks are both strictly protected under the EU Birds Directive. Nevertheless, every year, up to 200,000 wild birds are killed or captured in Malta by poachers. They kill and trap birds for food, taxidermy, and target practice.
The main groups of birds found in Malta are the procellariids. These are medium-sized “true petrels”, with long outer functional primary and united nostrils. In Malta, five species of procellariids have been recorded. In addition, storks are large wading birds with a long, stout bill. Most species are migratory. In addition, the sulids, which include boobies and gannets, comprise a large number of species.
The European Commission has opposed the Maltese government’s decision, starting an infringement procedure in 2014. The Advocate General of the European Court of Justice, which rules on EU Birds Directive derogations, has concluded that Malta does not have a legitimate reason to permit hunting of wild birds. Despite this, populations of seven species of finches are deemed to be healthy in Malta. The ECJ is expected to uphold the Advocate General’s opinion in the final judgment.
Maltese bird poaching is a major problem in Malta. According to BirdLife Malta, 114 birds were confirmed shot during 2018 in the country. These protected species include storks, falcons and harriers. Meanwhile, police cases on trapping were only 11 as of October 17.
The Maltese obsession with killing migratory birds
In spite of the European Union ban on spring hunting, Malta is still allowing hunters to kill migratory birds. The number of birds being shot in Malta is considerably higher than the official estimates. Malta also allows hunters to kill turtle doves, which are at risk of extinction. Thousands of birds are killed in Malta every spring by hunters and trappers. But there are limits. The Maltese hunters are not the only ones causing environmental damage.
In addition to turtle doves, more than one hundred other species of birds pass through Malta. It is the stopping point of 170 species of birds migrating between Africa and Europe. Two species are protected by the EU Birds Directive, including black storks. Despite this, up to 200,000 wild birds in Malta are captured or killed every year. Poachers kill these birds for food, taxidermy, and target practice.
Despite the strict rules and regulations, hunters in Malta continue to kill migratory birds. In spite of the lack of an alternative hunting season, Malta allows spring hunting. Quails and turtle-doves are hunted during the last three weeks of April. Hunters are legally required to submit their bag statistics to the government’s Wild Bird Regulation Unit. Although these statistics are not related to the daily influxes of birds, it provides an alternative measure of the scale of hunting in Malta.
While Malta may not be the biggest culprit in the world of bird poaching, it is one of the most affected areas. It is the stopping point of 170 species of birds. Maltese poachers kill or capture upwards of 200,000 wild birds in Malta every year. In spite of the European Court of Justice ruling, this practice continues to plague the country. Although Malta has a history of ignoring European legislation, it continues to allow illegal trapping of protected birds.
The 420 species of birds that live on the island
Malta has a varied avifauna of 420 species. The islands’ location along major migration routes ensures that many species pass through during spring and autumn. There are two species of introduced birds on Malta, which are not considered to be indigenous. In Malta, taxonomic treatment follows the conventions of the Clements Checklist of Birds of the World, 2021 edition. In addition, accidental species are included in the total species count.
Most Maltese birds are members of the Anatidae family, which includes ducks and other duck-like waterfowl. These birds have plump feathers and excellent water-shedding properties. In contrast, Phasianidae are large, terrestrial species with thick, oily-coated feathers and broad, relatively short wings. Although Malta has a variety of bird species, the largest group is the stork, with over 420 species.
The organization was founded by Mark Ross, a bird enthusiast, almost 40 years ago. He was an active youth member of the Malta Ornithological Society, which later became BirdLife Malta. As a result of his interest in nature conservation, Nick has been actively involved in many campaigns and sits on its council for three years. Although Nick is a nature lover, he has a background in finance and works for the local government as a Solutions Architect.
Despite Malta’s environmental commitments, there are still some cases of illegal hunting. It is allowed to trap about 40 species of birds from September to January. This includes protected species like the Golden Plover and the Song Thrush. However, there is a limit of the number of birds that can be hunted and the quotas for capturing and preserving each species are extremely limited. Nonetheless, Malta seems to be complying with the ruling by the European Court of Justice.
The EU has to do more to protect the lives of these migrants. It needs to show some spine and take action against illegal hunting. The Commission, however, cannot expect much from Malta’s political class. The hunting lobby claims 12,000 members, so it is unlikely that they will risk losing votes by opposing illegal hunting. This is especially true of the turtle dove, which is protected in Malta. Although Malta’s hunting ban is clearly in violation of EU law, it may be able to avoid further legal action by enforcing the conditions for its hunting season in spring.
The 420 species of birds that live in Malta
There are 420 species of birds living in Malta, but how do you know which are the most common? Luckily, you don’t have to travel very far to find out. BirdLife Malta has a dedicated team of five passionate birdwatchers. The group includes two young birdwatchers. They have made it their mission to make Malta a great place for birds and to share their love of nature with as many people as possible.
There are four main families of birds in Malta. First is the Anatidae, which includes the ducks and other waterfowl. The Anatidae has feathers that are well-adapted to shed water. The second family of birds, the Phasianidae, is composed of large, terrestrial seabirds and migratory species. Both groups have their own distinctive characteristics, including plumage and long wings.
Daniel, a twenty-five-year-old avid birdwatcher and wildlife enthusiast, started birdwatching at a young age and is active in Maltese bird studies and habitat amelioration projects. He’s worked with bird ringers and trained as one, and still enjoys birdwatching despite his hectic career as a police constable. His passion for birds has also made him a natural fit for a job in the information technology (IT) industry.
Another big problem is hunting. Malta’s hunters are more prevalent than any other EU country. The European Commission has not challenged Malta’s figures, despite Malta’s ‘conservation’ status. The Commission’s guidelines for hunting protected species in Europe ban such derogations. Malta could avoid further legal action if it enforces certain conditions during its spring hunting season. It’s important to remember that Malta is an island with a diverse environment, and hunting is allowed on some islands but not in others.