2020 was an unusual year with many unexpected events taking place beyond our control, but something that did not change was the spectacular phenomenon of millions of birds soaring into the sky to migrate between their summer and winter areas. Since migratory birds are often spotted in quarries, it was a natural step for HeidelbergCement to include migratory birds in its measures to conserve biological diversity in 2020. By initiating a global quarry bird survey, HeidelbergCement wanted to better understand which species can be observed in quarries and create awareness of their presence. With the support of BirdLife International, the survey was conducted as a Citizen Science initiative, in which employees recorded their bird observations on the regional control sheets provided.
At the same time as the Global Migratory Bird Days, the “Bird Race” was started practically in the middle of the global closure. While HeidelbergCement employees complied with the national bans and other country-specific regulations, they were asked to take part wherever they were – in the quarry or in the home office. Nine countries in three geographic regions; North America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region participated and recorded nearly 200 different species of birds, nearly a third of which were migratory species and more than 20 different species of birds of prey.
Prizes in the form of binoculars were given to enthusiastic contributors who managed to record the most observations and the rarest bird, which turned out to be the endangered European turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur), a migratory species discovered in a Romanian quarry. The results already have demonstrated that there are a variety of birds who prefer a range of habitats provided by quarries as it was a fun activity to involve staff in biodiversity surveys. These results would have to be monitored further, and based on the support of its employees, HeidelbergCement would like to continue the “bird race” as an annual event, which we as BirdLife will actively support.