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Follow the Bird!

Welcome to Follow the Bird!

The Follow the Bird! project demonstrates the vital importance of networks of good quality wetlands along a flyway that migratory birds use on their annual cycle and the close link of the importance of these wetlands to the livelihoods of people living at these sites.

Our ambassadors are migratory birds equipped with satellite transmitters that fly between Europe and Africa and stop at a number of important wetlands along a major waterbird flyway. Currently, the intercontinental migration of five Purple Herons can be followed on our website. To learn more, go to the Birds We Follow section and click on Purple Heron to view the current locations of each individual we follow. Here you can also access additional information on these individuals and links to some of the Key wetland sites they have visited.

On the page Get Involved you can get involved and contribute to this project by uploading photos, additional information on wetlands and other stop-over sites where the Purple Herons are using in their migratory journeys.

Where are our Purple Herons now? Last update 19 May 2010



Purple icons: birds on their southward migration or present locations

Red icons: birds who have sent signals recently

Yellow icons: birds with recently lost signal

White icons: birds who have not sent signals for a long time


What is new? Updated 19 August 2010

News:  Autumn migration has begun.

August 2010: After a prolonged period of rain the weather changed and immediately afterwards several hundreds of departing Purple Herons have been reported at bird observatories in the Netherlands during the last few days. So, Autumn migration to West Africa has started. To date no herons with transmitters have joined the departing flocks. All herons with transmitters bred successfully and should be ready to take off the coming weeks. Karen most likely died in the desert of Morocco and thus three herons of previous years are still alive and with operational transmitters: Lena, Rudi and Mustapha.

May 2010: After a gap of three months we can fortunately report the successful spring migration of Karen, Mustapha, Lena and Rudi. Mustapha and Lena have already returned to the breeding colonies in the Netherlands. This is especially exciting for Lena, who is the first juvenile Purple Heron ever to be followed from fledging into breeding. Lena spend two northern summers in Africa before returning this year for the first time; this was longer than expected. Rudi made a long stop in the Parque Nacional de DoƱana in southern Spain on his way back to the Netherlands and, as far as we know, is still not back in the colony. Karen passed the desert successfully but flew out into the open ocean and after a 1000 km detour ended up in the Canary Islands. After recovering there for over two weeks has now headed onto Morocco. Whether Karen will be back in time to breed is unclear, but this seems unlikely as the first Purple Herons have already hatched in the Dutch colonies.

For more news, go to the News archive.

Further information about the specific habitats used by Purple Herons can be gathered through photographs. We have received the following photograph from Ger van Creij of a Purple Heron in Takoradi in Ghana in October 2007, showing the type of habitat that the herons are using.

Adult Purple Heron at Takoradi (Ghana) on 15 October 2007 (Ger van Creij)


Follow the Bird Project

Migratory birds equipped with satellite-transmitters can be followed online. Implemented by Wetlands International with support from the Shell Partnership.

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