02:45 GMT26 July 2021
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    Bird watchers have revealed that thousands of swallows and swifts currently migrating from Africa to Europe are dying due to strong winds in Greece, which they pass through when migrating north during the spring months.

    According to Maria Ganoti of the Greek wildlife protection group Anima, the birds have been found dead on streets and apartment balconies in the Greek capital city of Athens, on the Aegean Islands and near the seaport of Nauplia in the Peloponnese, a peninsula and geographic region in southern Greece.

    ​“It’s a major disaster,” Ganoti told AFP Thursday.

    “Over the last three days because of high winds in the north and over the Aegean Sea, thousands of small birds have been found dead or gravely injured,” she said.

    The Hellenic Ornithological Society, which is a Greek non-governmental body concerned with protecting wild birds and their habitats in the country, also told AFP, “The night of April 5-6 was disastrous for migrating birds due to strong winds, low temperatures and rain in some regions.”

    “Southerly winds pushed flocks of birds from north Africa into air currents from the north of the Aegean sea and particularly the islands. To escape, exhausted birds, mainly swallows and swifts, which catch flying insects for food, headed for the Greek mainland,” the organization told AFP.

    "However, this specific weather combination was unprecedented and pushed entire populations to their limits," the group added in a statement obtained by EcoWatch. "If we take into account all the hardships that human activity brings about during their journey - habitat loss, desertification, illegal killing etc. - these losses could prove devastating.” According to the UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, migration is a “gamble for birds,” as many are faced with “all kinds of dangers on the way - from bad weather and hungry predators to exhaustion and starvation.”

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    migration, Greece, winds, birds
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