The AFCoW News & Events section will provide an outlet for news reports and commentary on waterbirds in the Asian Flyways as well as reporting on new publications (see References). A schedule of Events will be provided for meetings, workshops, and other activities that may interest AFCoW members. Please feel free to send topics for News & Events to the organizers through the contact page or listserve.

May webinar: The Importance of Quantitative Evaluation of Stopover Habitat Quality to the Conservation of Declining Migratory Waterbirds

The talk was given by Dr. Mu, Tong (Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University)

Migratory species are declining worldwide due to a suite of anthropogenic threats; these declines, in turn, have led to the deterioration of crucial ecosystem functions at a global scale. Unlike resident species, for which threats are usually local in nature and can therefore be addressed by local conservation measures, many migratory species travel across vast areas and may face multiple threats at different sites or life history stages. As a result, identifying the sites, stages, and threats that have the most significant impact on the population growth or size of migratory species is more challenging yet critical to effectively conserving populations of migrants. The loss or degradation of stopover sites, indispensable links during the annual movement cycles of migratory species, has been repeatedly identified as a major cause of the declines of various species. However, the effect of habitat changes on migrant populations is usually less evident compared to those of other threats, and quantifying such effects can be particularly challenging.

To address such need and challenges, we will first present a theoretical framework that may facilitate both research and on-ground conservation focusing on migratory birds at stopover sites, through (a) quantifying the present habitat use intensity as an index for relative importance of each stopover site in supporting migrant populations and (b) evaluating the carrying capacity of stopover sites to identify the potential population bottleneck that may have contributed or will lead to the decline of migratory birds. The speaker will then demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed framework using a field study focusing on shorebirds migrating along the EAAF.

Also on Bilibili:

P.S. Based on the author’s request, we are not posting the second talk on the internet.

April webinar: Coordinated conservation action to protect migratory birds – the Central Asian Flyway Initiative

Dr. Suresh Kumar (Department of Endangered Species Management at the Wildlife Institute of India)

The Central Asian Flyway comprising 30 countries is one of the nine flyways in the world and supports significant populations of a number of migratory water birds and land birds including several globally threatened and near-threatened species. Populations of these species breed in the northern latitudes of Asia from close to the Arctic coast, and almost 90% of these migrate south to the Indian Subcontinent which serves as their non-breeding destination. Many waterbird populations in the CAF region are reported to be declining as a result of habitat loss and degradation due to changing land use practices, unsustainable water management, pollution, unsustainable hunting and poaching, poisoning, and lack of law enforcement and conservation capacity. Information on how land use changes are impacting Central Asian Flyway (CAF) birds is still poorly known. One another major challenge faced with the management of migratory birds and their habitats is the spread of diseases for example avian influenza. Clearly, the abovementioned are all areas of work that require immediate attention and research, and to manage and mitigate the threats a flyway scale approach is clearly the need of the hour. This calls for working together across national borders through coordinated actions.

India has been actively involved in fostering CAF flyway cooperation and organized intergovernmental meetings in the past that have been critically important in developing and taking forward agreements and plans. The Indian Government through its Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change also developed and launched ‘India’s National Action Plan for Conservation of Migratory Birds and their Habitats along Central Asian Flyway (2018–2023)’. Since CMS CoP13, efforts for the development of an institutional mechanism to be established for the CAF have been underway so as to take forward the CAF initiative.


AFCoW special section: Predicting Seasonal Bird Migration with Birdcast

Predicting Seasonal Bird Migration with Birdcast

Dr. Kyle Horton

Assistant Professor Colorado State University Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology

Billions of animals cross the globe each year during seasonal migrations, but efforts to monitor them are hampered by the unpredictability of their movements. We developed a bird migration forecast system at a continental scale by leveraging 23 years of spring observations to identify associations between atmospheric conditions and bird migration intensity. Our models explained up to 81% of variation in migration intensity across the United States at altitudes of 0 to 3000 meters, and performance remained high in forecasting events 1 to 7 days in advance (62 to 76% of variation was explained). Avian migratory movements across the United States likely exceed 500 million individuals per night during peak passage. Bird migration forecasts will reduce collisions with buildings, airplanes, and wind turbines; inform a variety of monitoring efforts; and engage the public.

14 March Webinar talks (two parts)

Francis A. Commerçon (Yale School of the Environment)

Analysis of Wetland Prioritization for EAAF Migratory Waterbird Conservation

In the global fight against biodiversity loss, biologists rely on spatial prioritization approaches to plan allocation of limited conservation resources. I qualitatively analyze the widespread population percentage approach to wetland prioritization for migratory waterbird conservation in the EAAF and ask why connectivity-based inclusion criteria are lacking. I suggest one explanation may be how birds are valued in sub-national conservation politics. At its root, the difference in usage between population percentages and connectivity metrics might be the scale difference between counts of birds and tagged individuals. When advocating site conservation against economic interests, ecological values often must be defended using a way of thinking that fails to recognize the legitimacy of knowledge obtain from small numbers of tagged birds. Migratory connectivity is critical for the persistence of waterbird populations, yet it is understood at the scale of the individual bird. A shift toward recognizing the value of individual birds’ experiences is a first step toward achieving effective population-level conservation.

Paul Antony B (Bombay Natural History Society)

Migratory pattern of coastal birds through Kanyakumari, India with special emphasis on terns

Kanyakumari being located at the southern tip of peninsular India and at the meeting place of two seas with the Indian Ocean, this site attains significance for migratory birds that winter and pass through India. These sites act as a stopover/ refuelling site during the southward migration (August to mid-October) for the birds migrating to the southern hemisphere countries. Similarly, many species that might not have passed through this site during the southward migration occur during the northward migration (mid-February to early April). This three-decade study documented the changes in the population trends of several migratory species, especially in Crested terns. The mass movements recorded in several tern species which did not happen during northward passage indicate that the species take different migratory routes for their northward and southward journeys. The major migratory groups consist of terns followed by waders and flamingos. The dominant species during southward passage are predominantly marine terns and a small number of shorebirds. During winter the dominant groups are mostly ducks and several species of waders and flamingos. Species that utilise these sites as a stopover during northward migration are predominantly waders and marsh terns (Whiskered, Gull-billed, Little & Saunders’s terns). Habitat specialists like Grey Plover, Terek Sandpiper, Common Greenshank and Ruddy Turnstone also occur at the sites in more numbers during northward passage. Contrary to the other sites like Chilika and Point Calimere, this area supports Whiskered Tern only during the northward passage. It can currently supports the largest population of Common Terns (80,000 to 1,00,000), Lesser Crested Terns (c. 20,000), and Greater Crested Terns (c. 80,000) which stayed briefly during northward migration. The BNHS’s bird ringing studies at Kanyakumari have produced interesting recoveries on Common tern, Lesser Crested tern, and Whiskered tern.


15 February AFCoW webinar

Dr. Nyambayar Batbayar: Tracking the migration of threatened White-naped cranes from Mongolia and its conservation implications

Since 2014, we have tracked over 80 White-naped cranes from various locations at their breeding grounds in eastern Mongolia. The individuals we tracked belong to the western flyway of the species where most migrate between Mongolia and Poyang Lake. There are some clear indications about the migration divide between the two flyways. Several individuals tracked from easternmost Mongolia belonged to the eastern flyway reaching Korean Peninsula. It seems to be the two flyways are not completely separated. We have identified several key stopover sites, which we believe the species’ survival depends on them. One of them is Duolin, a site located in southern Inner Mongolia. The location was a hub for the cranes in the northern part of the range. This raises several questions, including the area’s health and introduction of infectious diseases, etc.

If you don’t have access to YouTube, please find the recording on Bilibili:

18 January AFCoW Webinar Uploaded!

Our AFCoW Webinar has been uploaded from 18 January 2023 where Dr. Xu, Fei from Tsinghua University presented on “Migratory herbivorous waterfowl couple the seed wave and green wave during spring migration.”

Join us on 15 February 2023 for our next webinar!

If you don’t have access to YouTube we have also uploaded our webinar to BIlibili:

14 December AFCoW webinar uploaded!

In December’s AFCoW webinar, Dr. Bala (Deputy Director of the Bombay Natural History Society) presented “The Global Significance of Shorebirds Ringing at Point Calimere- with special emphasis on the changes in the migratory movement pattern.” He showed us the importance of Point Calimere in connecting central Asia and eastern Asia by waterbird migration.

Our next webinar will be held on 18 January 2022. Dr. Fei Xu (Chongqing University) will present on “Migratory herbivorous waterfowl couple the seed wave and green wave during spring migration.”

See times below:

Beijing and Ulaanbaatar: Wednesday, 18 January, 21:00

USA: Wednesday, 18 January, 08:00 EST; 07:00 CST; 05:00 PST

Tokyo and Seoul: Wednesday, 18 January, 22:00

New Delhi and Colombo: Wednesday, 18 January, 18:30

Sydney: Thursday, 19 January, 00:00

Wellington: Thursday, 19 January, 02:00

Abu Dhabi: Wednesday, 18 January, 17:00

Amsterdam: Wednesday, 18 January, 14:00

London: Wednesday, 18 January, 13:00


Join us on Zoom

Meeting ID: 821 3267 4647

If you don’t have access to YouTube, we have also uploaded our webinar to Bilibili:

16 November Webinar Uploaded!

Our AFCoW webinar has been uploaded from 15-16 November 2022 where Gayomini Panagoda from Department of Zoology & Environment Sciences, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka presented on “Insights and opportunities from a poorly studied, land-locked flyway.” She recorded the first bird that migrate all the way from Sir Lanka to the Arctic, 20,500km round trip. What a breathtaking journey!

Our next webinar will be held on 13-14 December 2022. Where Dr. S. Balachandran from the Bombay Natural History Society will present on “The global significance of shorebirds ringing at Point Calimere- with special emphasis on the changes in the migratory movement pattern.”

See times below:

Beijing and Ulaanbaatar: Wednesday 14 December, 10:00
USA: Tuesday 13 December, 21:00 EST; 20:00 CST; 18:00 PST
Tokyo and Seoul: Wednesday 14 December, 11:00
New Delhi and Colombo: Wednesday 14 December, 07:30
Sydney: Wednesday 14 December, 13:00
Wellington: Wednesday 14 December, 15:00
Abu Dhabi: Wednesday 14 December, 06:00
Amsterdam: Wednesday 14 December, 03:00
London: Wednesday 14 December, 02:00

If you don’t have access to YouTube we have also uploaded our webinar to Bilibili:


26 October Webinar Uploaded!

Our first AFCoW webinar of the season has been uploaded from 25-26 October 2022 where Dr. Yong Zhang from Nanjing Forestry University presented on “Population dynamics and diversity of wintering waterbirds in the Shengjin Lake National Nature Reserve.”

Our next webinar will be held on 15-16 November 2022.  Where Goyomini Panagoda from the University of Colombo will present on “Insights and opportunities from a poorly studied, land-locked flyway.”

See times below:
Beijing and Ulaanbaatar: Wednesday 16 November, 10:00
USA: Tuesday 15 November, 21:00 EDT; 20:00 CDT; 18:00 PDT
Tokyo and Seoul: Wednesday 16 November, 11:00
New Delhi and Colombo: Wednesday 16 November, 07:30
Sydney: Wednesday 16 November, 13:00
Wellington: Wednesday 16 November, 15:00
Abu Dhabi: Wednesday 16 November, 06:00
Amsterdam: Wednesday 16 November, 03:00
London: Wednesday 16 November, 02:00

If you don’t have access to YouTube we have also uploaded our webinar to Bilibili:


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