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By Stu Mackenzie, Jody Allair, Pete Davidson, and Yousif Attia

Once in a while, we are invited to apply our skills and passion in a different realm. This is the spirit of unity that connects the world’s largest alliance for nature, BirdLife International. In March, Bird Studies Canada’s “Team Canucks” will proudly represent Canada for the first time ever at the biggest, friendliest birding race for conservation on Earth – Champions of the Flyway – with generous support from Vortex Canada and Eagle-Eye Tours.
Take five minutes to enjoy this video capturing the energy and passion of last year’s Champions of the Flyway race day.
Our team includes Stu Mackenzie (Director of Migration Ecology, Bird Studies Canada), Jody Allair (National Outreach Manager, Bird Studies Canada), Yousif Attia (former Long Point Bird Observatory manager), and Pete Davidson (Senior Conservation Advisor, Bird Studies Canada). “Champions” is hosted by BirdLife International partner the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel at the tourism and bird migration hotspot of Eilat. There, we will join teams transcending boundaries from around the world and “bust our bins” for the title of Champions, Guardians, or Knights of the Flyway!
We invite you to fly with us! The important cause behind this year’s competition is Africa’s imperilled vultures. You can help save Africa’s vultures and other Rift Valley wildlife from extinction by sponsoring our team, making a corporate donation (see below), and by raising awareness of the issue on social media to reach more than a million people worldwide.

Photo: Ron Ridout

Over its first five years, Champions successfully tackled the illegal killing of birds around the Mediterranean. This year, the event is answering an emergency call from farther south to “Heal the Rift.” The project that will receive the funds raised by this year’s event is a strong partnership of NGOs, government, and businesses, led by Birdlife International partner Nature Kenya in the world-famous Masai Mara-Serengeti ecosystem. Nature Kenya’s work with local Maasai and business communities will benefit vultures and many other animals impacted by poisoning, from lions to migratory waterbirds.
The African savannas may seem a long way from Canada, but not if you’re a Northern Wheatear that breeds in northern Canada – for those birds, it’s a routine commute! Have you or one of your colleagues ever been to Africa? Are you planning a future visit? Have you been inspired, mesmerized even, by those extraordinary documentaries of wildlife on Africa’s “prairies”? If so, we believe you’ll feel compelled to grab this opportunity to help Heal the Rift!
With your help, we want to raise as much money and awareness as possible. Please consider supporting us on our fundraising pages for either Canadian donors or international donors. Corporate donations are warmly welcomed – please email Stu Mackenzie for details of our sponsorship framework. And please share our social media posts about the issue and the event through Bird Studies Canada’s main accounts and our own personal accounts. The Big Day is 26 March 2019!
Immediately after the bird race and Eilat Bird Festival, our team will remain in Eilat for the International Bird Observatory Conference, where we will be representing Bird Studies Canada, Long Point Bird Observatory, and the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network stations.
Thank you for your support!
Bird Studies Canada’s Team Canucks

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