A heartening press-release from BirdLife Malta, and one that certainly makes a change from the activities of the island’s poachers and various officials finding ways to stretch hunting seasons or kill as many birds as humanly possible…
- Saturday 16th June, Malta – BirdLife Malta today announced it has confirmed the first ever breeding record for a Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla (Kapiniera in Maltese) in Malta, adding a new species to the list of birds which have bred in the Maltese Islands.
The nest, which was found by BirdLife Malta ornithologist, Raymond Galea and his son, Nicholas, contained two chicks, already hatched, with the parents observed foraging nearby.
Both the male and female birds are involved in feeding their chicks in the first two weeks after hatching, before their downy feathers are replaced by their first flight feathers and they are ready to leave the nest for the first time (known as ‘fledging’).
The Blackcap is a warbler of the Sylvia genus, and breeds widely throughout continental Europe, including Italy, as well as in Sicily.
In Malta Blackcaps are regularly seen on migration in Spring and Autumn. There have also been numerous records of Backcaps over-wintering in the Maltese Islands, but this is the first time they have been recorded successfully breeding.
Both the chicks were ringed while still in the nest as part of BirdLife Malta’s scientific ringing studies, which are part of a European-wide coordinated scheme and will allow ornithologists to monitor their movements and learn more about the behaviour and life cycle of this species.
Ringing recoveries have so far shown that Blackcaps migrating through the Maltese Islands have also been recorded in at least eight European countries, including Italy, Spain, Hungary, Slovenia and even as far as Norway, 2,500 kilometres north of Malta.
These birds weigh less than 25 grams and can cover more than 3,000 kilometres when migrating between their breeding and wintering grounds.
The BirdLife Malta website: http://www.birdlifemalta.org
BirdLife Malta is part of an international network of fully co-ordinated ringing stations and National Ringing Schemes that have been indispensable for the efficient management of scientific bird ringing in Europe. We are the leading voice in ensuring that Malta’s hunters WILL conform with EU Directives and spring hunting will be banned in accordance with those directives. Birdlife Malta currently manages two nature reserves, Ghadira and Is-Simar, and also joint manages an afforestation project known as Foresta 2000 (located adjacent to Ghadira): the two nature reserves are both Ramsar-designated wetland areas and represent the largest free-standing sources of water in Malta.