The Malta-Gozo channel has been confirmed as Malta’s first marine important bird area (IBA) in recognition of its international importance for two globally and one regionally threatened bird species.

BirdLife Malta said today this put the country on the world stage alongside biodiversity hotspots such as the Galapagos and the Azores as a refuge for threatened wildlife.

Birds from Malta’s two main breeding populations of the ‘red-listed’ yelkouan shearwater puffinus yelkouan and the larger scopoli’s shearwater calonectris diomedea at Rdum tal-Madonna, in Malta, and Ta’ Cenc, in Gozo, make use of the channel, congregating on the water in large numbers before returning to their nearby cliff-side nest sites to take their turn incubating their egg or feeding their young.

The channel, including Comino, is also an important migration route for the ferruginous duck aythya nyroca, acting as a bottleneck through which these ‘near-threatened’ birds are funnelled on their passage through the Maltese archipelago between their breeding grounds in Europe and their African wintering grounds.

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