Hellenic Ornithological Society, photo: Th.Kominos
Historical Background

Although bird migration is a feature found in almost every island of the Mediterranean, few areas actually fulfill all the requirements for the creation of a Bird Observatory, The island of Antikythira is one of the top 10-15 sites for this purpose.

Antikythira Bird ObservatoryDue to its geographical position and certain features - a longitudinal island, with a north to south direction and very few human activities - Antikythira qualify as an ideal site for population monitoring of the large birds of prey (buzzards, harriers, eagles etc) that pass through the Peloponnese and Crete, but also for the study of small birds' migration by direct observation or ringing.

Therefore, a Bird Observatory in Antikythira can cover both issues, a unique fact in the Mediterranean. Moreover, Antikythira hosts one of the largest populations of Eleonora's Falcons (Falco eleonorae) in the world, adding more to the scientific research. The concentration of so many small bird-feeding falcons is, of course, not a coincidence...

The idea of the creation of the Observatory was conceived in the mid-90s when the "migrational" importance of the island became known. In 1997, the community of Antikythira vested the old school building to the Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS). At the same time, efforts were made for the raising of funds, a task proved to be very difficult. Together, more and more data of the island was collected. The assistance of top expert ringers from all over the world was requested, and the first organized ringing expedition took place in the spring of 1998 with the presence of Italian ringers, followed by another three ringing expeditions and several visits for raptor monitoring.

Bird Ringing The very nature of this action, that included scientific, ecological and social parameters, made the raising of funds for the complete project a very difficult task. Financial issues were solved, however, in 2000 when A.G.Levendis Foundation and Anastasios Levendis himself funded the school building renovation project, the first step towards the completion of the task. The Bird Observatory opened in 2004 and, through its continuous operation; we have managed to gather the first data concerning bird migration, while research work is being adapted year after year to the special nature of the island and to the arising questions.

Needless to say, nothing of all these would have taken place without the positive attitude of local people, the financial aid of A.G.Levendis Foundation and Anastasios Levendis and the personal work of several members and contributors of HOS that embraced the project.

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