Little green Bee eater JM

Countown to Champions of the Flyway 2016


Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel is proud to stage Champions of the Flyway 2016 – an extraordinary bird race for conservation that takes place annually, in the unparalleled and legendary migration hotspot – Eilat, Israel

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.
    1. The ‘buzz’ the event generates encourages everyone concerned about the illegal killing of birds to act personally and support direct conservation action.
    1. The whole race celebrates the miracle of migration and the joy of sharing outstanding birding experiences, rather than encouraging secrecy and suppression.

While 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.

Join us in Eilat in 2016, celebrate the miracle of migration and help stop the illegal killing of migratory birds in Greece.

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

Many of our race teams enjoy the support of commercial sponsors. Some participants 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 participated in 2015, who you might like to support and where you can make a donation via their fundraising page. In 2015, every donation is helping BirdLife Cyprus tackle the illegal killing of migratory birds. It is still not too late to support the cause!

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.

Now in its third year! Champions of the Flyway 2016.

Israel 2014-03-31 at 08-19-57Champions of the Flyway is back with a bang and we are proud to be flying the flag for migratory bird conservation once again.

In 2015 our COTF Race teams raised an impressive $60,000 so BirdLife Cyprus could increase their efforts to stop illegal trapping.

For 2016 we are delighted to be teaming up with our good friends at BirdLife in Greece – the Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS) to help them tackle the illegal killing of birds in their country. They need our help badly so please join us and make COTF 2016 an even bigger success than last year!

We will be assembling in Eilat in late March 2016 and we welcome all the new teams that will be racing for the Champions of the Flyway crown on Tuesday March 29th 2016.

We are excited to be able to welcome many new teams and followers and are grateful for the continuing (and growing) support of our sponsors.

If you’d like to participate as either contestant or a sponsor please contact us here.

The 2015 Champions of the Flyway

The Cape May Bird Observatory American Dippers are crowned Champions of the Flyway 2015 after winning the title with an outstanding total of 168 species.

Champions of the Flyway 2015 took off in an impressive manner.  31 teams of birders from 15 countries had assembled in Eilat in late March 2015 and as the clock struck midnight on March 24th, 135 competitors stepped over the start line as they headed out into a star-lit Israeli night to embark on the challenge of logging as many species as possible during the 24 hour period that followed.

With spring migration at its peak the teams then combed the deserts of Southern Israel gradually adding to their lists, experienced some amazing birds and wildlife, shared information generously and reached out to their supporters – all with the express intention of raising money and awareness to help stop the illegal trapping of migratory birds in Cyprus.

The teams supporting the 2015 project have already helped raised close to $50,000, from more than 900 individual donations and sponsors.

See here for more information about the 2015 race, the birds seen and the winners and awards.

Conservation funds raised to date in 2015

$7,950 Raised Offline
$41,745 Raised Online
$49,695 (160%) of $30,000 conservation fund target secured

Following the success of the 2014 event, Champions of the Flyway returned in March 2015 and once again we have been 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 are 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.

Relive the drama of COTF 2014…

Support a team! Choose the team you want to help

and make a donation to their fundraising page.