In my son’s new book, Robins, Wrens and other British Birds, it reads:
“In springtime, many of the birds you see will have come from far away. Each year, some birds, like swifts, make an amazing journey to find food and nesting places. This is called ‘migration’.”
The word struck me at once. This was unrestricted migration.
Swifts travel to the UK from sub-Saharan Africa, some as much as 3,000 miles in five days. The RSPB reckons the global swift population at 25 million. That’s just one type of bird. The problem is, official figures on the numbers of birds migrating into the UK are extremely hard to come by, since there are no border checks in place. This is not migration to escape persecution, but to obtain food and nesting places.
Without control of UK borders, how can the country hope to control the numbers of migratory birds? It is acceptable, in fact beneficial, to welcome birds into the UK who can demonstrate that they will fill a need and not be a drain on resources, but at present, any bird can gain entry to the UK, entering and departing as they please.
It seems only right that systems should be put in place to protect honest, hardworking British birds. A points-based system – similar to the one used in Australia to manage human migration – would seem to be a perfectly reasonable way of managing the flow of migratory birds into the UK from sub-Saharan Africa.
Through the implementation of a points-based immigration system, birds wishing to migrate to the UK from abroad would first have to establish, in their country of origin, that they had agreed access to a specific food source or nesting place within a UK garden or green space, and the owner of that garden or green space would have to satisfy the UK government that in doing so, they would not be depriving a British bird.