According to a new study published in the journal Science, only 9 percent of migratory birds are adequately protected in their habitat across their range.
The findings help scientists understand why migratory birds are in decline despite the global efforts that exist to help protect them.
"Migratory species rely on a chain of good quality habitat all the way along their migratory route," said senior author Associate Professor Richard Fuller from the University of Queensland. "If links in that chain are not well protected then some species might not be able to complete their lifecycle."
According to the study, most of the 90 percent of migratory birds that are in danger have adequate protection in one area, but are not adequately protected in other areas, particularly in countries like China, India, and certain parts of South America and Africa.
In fact, over half of migratory bird populations that travel the main flyways in the world have suffered serious decreases in their population over the past 30 years.
Typically, migratory birds rely on quite a big range of different locations throughout their annual cycles, with different locations needing to provide food, rest, and places to breed. Because of this, even if areas in one country are protected, a single location that isn't can break the chain and affect the entire population of birds.
During season changes, birds fly pretty remarkable distances to find places to rest, with some endurance flights being over 10,000 kilometers or around 6,214 miles. Some birds fly the equivalent of the distance to the moon and back three times during their lifetimes.
According to the study, of the 1,451 migratory bird species, 1,324 did not have adequate protection in at least one part of their migration. Eighteen species had no protection in breeding areas, and two species had no protection at all.
Protected areas are often designated by different countries, however, international efforts and partnerships are crucial to safeguarding migratory birds.