Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival Begins April 22nd

The Antillean Crested Hummingbird is a regional endemic. It is a common resident throughout the Lesser Antilles, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Photo by Sipke Stapert.
The Antillean Crested Hummingbird is a regional endemic. It is a common resident throughout the Lesser Antilles, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Photo by Sipke Stapert.

It’s that time of year again! The Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival (CEBF) begins on Earth Day, April 22nd. This regional celebration highlights the birds that are endemic—the ones that live only in the Caribbean. A wide variety of events will take place across the region through May 22nd, International Biodiversity Day. This annual celebration is organized by BirdsCaribbean, and events are hosted by groups on many islands.

This year’s theme is Our Endemic Birds—Sharing “Stopover Sites.” While the festivals will celebrate the birds that live here and nowhere else in the world, they will also highlight habitat. Our endemic birds share their habitat with migratory birds that are here for only part of the year. Does sharing habitat mean more competition for food and shelter? How can we protect, conserve or even restore these shared habitats? What native plants and trees are beneficial? Which species are especially vulnerable?

The Great Lizard Cuckoo is a regional endemic bird. It is found on the islands of the Bahamas and Cuba. Photo by Carrol Henderson.
The Great Lizard Cuckoo is a regional endemic bird. It is found on the islands of the Bahamas and Cuba. Photo by Carrol Henderson.

The CEBF is a month-long event that Caribbean citizens of all ages enjoy – whether they are senior citizens in Havana, conservationists in Bermuda or schoolchildren in Grenada. And since we are in the Caribbean, our overseas visitors always get involved, too. In 2016, dozens of events celebrating endemic birds took place, providing opportunities for learning and enjoyment for thousands.

Springtime in the Caribbean is always marked by the activities of the birds. As the winter visitors get ready to leave, many of our local birds are already busy building nests and raising families. Hills, valleys, wetlands, fields and gardens are alive with the urgent calls of fledglings, making it the perfect time to enjoy and appreciate our endemic birds. Find out what is happening in your area, or consider hosting an endemic bird event yourself. Visit birdscaribbean.org or find BirdsCaribbean on Facebook for more information about the festival and updates throughout the month.