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Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel announce Champions of the Flyway – an extraordinary bird race for conservation that takes place annually, in the unparalleled and legendary migration hotspot – Eilat, Israel

24-hour ‘bird races’, ‘big days’ and ‘bird-a-thons’ are now well known throughout the world. These events always draw the interest of local birders and the excitement they generate attracts considerable attention from a wider public too.


Champions of the Flyway is a bird race with a difference

  1. We operate on a different scale – global.  Birders from every corner of the world participate – either racing in person or by following events online.
  2. The ‘buzz’ the event generates encourages everyone concerned about the illegal killing of birds to act personally and support direct conservation action.
  3. The whole race celebrates the miracle of migration and the joy of sharing outstanding birding experiences, rather than encouraging secrecy and suppression.

COTF FlagWhile highly competitive, Champions of the Flyway contestants share their sightings as they go – enabling others race teams to try to see any ‘wanted’ birds they need too.

What’s more – as race teams tweet their sightings in real time, anyone, anywhere in the world can follow the race live on Twitter, or on this website and participate virtually, cheering their favourite team on to victory.

In 2014 more than a million birders followed the race and we are expecting to double that in 2015.

Join us in Eilat in 2015, celebrate the miracle of migration and help stop the illegal killing of migratory birds


Enter a team

The race is open to all who wish to register and take part. Our teams represent a wide range of individuals, organisations, brands and companies. If you are tempted to join us in Eilat this coming spring, please don’t delay as the number of teams is limited. All you need do is hook up with two or three mates and register now. The whole event is guaranteed to be great fun and you will be raising money to protect the same migrants you so often travel to see.

Sponsor a team

Several teams wishing to enter this year are looking for sponsors. Some are young birders with limited resources, others are would-be fundraisers from small, cash-strapped non-profit organisations. All could really use your support as a team sponsor! If you are interested in providing them a leg up please contact

Make a donation

Every team that participates gets a JustGiving page to help them raise online donations from their friends and contacts. Here are the team pages where you can see who has already registered, who you might like to support and where you can make a donation via their fundraising page. All teams automatically compete for the prestigious “Guardians of the Flyway” award – the team that raises the most money for our conservation cause and, if it is anything like last year, the competition will be fierce! This year, every donation will help BirdLife Cyprus tackle the illegal killing of migratory birds.

The Champions of the Flyway bird race is staged as part of the Eilat Bird Festival by The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (BirdLife’s national Partner in Israel) and is a BirdLife International Migratory Birds & Flyways Programme initiative.

Countdown to Lift Off


Relive the drama of last year’s race…


Following the success of last year’s event, Champions of the Flyway returns in March 2015 and once again we are taking a stand against the illegal killing of birds.

This year we are tackling another vital international conservation priority:

Illegal hunting and trapping in Cyprus

The magnitude of illegal hunting on this small Mediterranean Island is staggering. Hundreds of thousands of birds from all groups and families are killed there every migration season.

Europe_Cyprus_ ColourBirdLife Cyprus staff are currently working hard to bring about lasting change but with illegal killing still increasing and conservation resources ever-more stretched, the challenge is daunting. Current estimates suggest as many as 2,500,000 birds are now illegally hunted, trapped and killed there every year.

We hope you will help us raise enough money and awareness through Champions of the Flyway to enable BirdLife Cyprus to take the action needed to give the people of Cyprus the opportunity to turn the tide on criminality, stop illegal hunting and change the situation there once and for all.

Find out more about the action BirdLife Cyprus will be taking with your support.

A Red-backed Shrike comes to a sticky end at the hands of the illegal trappers in Cyprus.

Please donate today and help stop this indiscrimnate cruelty.


The COTF 2014 Teams assembled on Eilat Beach.

Last year, Champions of the Flyway took off in an impressive manner.  23 teams of birders from 11 countries assembled in Eilat in late March 2014 and went head to head in an attempt to log as many species as possible during a 24 hour period. The teams combed the deserts of Southern Israel during the peak of the spring migration, shared information and reached out to their supporters, all in an attempt to raise money and awareness for the widespread illegal killing of migratory birds of prey.

The 2014 project was focused on the Batumi bottleneck area in Georgia and the teams involved helped raise close to $60,000, from hundreds of individual donations and sponsors. Most of the money raised was channeled via Birdlife International to Bird Conservation Georgia and is already helping to address hunting issues there. As we greatly exceeded our targets, the extra funding raised is now helping BirdLife Malta address illegal hunting issues too.

See here for more information about the 2014 race, the birds seen and the winners and awards.

Support a team! Choose the team you want to help

and make a donation to their fundraising page.

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