High winds kill thousands of migrating birds in ‘disaster’ over Greece

Thousands of swallows and swifts migrating from Africa to Europe have been left dead by high winds battering Greece, bird watchers say.

The birds have been found in the streets of Athens, on apartment balconies in the capital, in the north, on Aegean islands and around a lake close to the seaport of Nauplia in the Peloponnese.

“It’s a major disaster,” Maria Ganoti of the wildlife protection group Anima told AFP on 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 Greek ornithologist association said: “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 association urged people to take care in the street, where exhausted birds often land after covering thousands of kilometres.

Greece is on the flight path for hundreds of thousands of birds which migrate north in spring and south in autumn.

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