From BirdsCaribbean News

After the Storm

Take care of yourselves and, once you and your loved ones are safe, remember our birds and consider their plight.

Flooding caused by Hurricane Irma in Old Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Juvenal Balán)
Flooding caused by Hurricane Irma in Old Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Juvenal Balán)

There is no doubt that the landscape on some islands has already changed, perhaps irreversibly so, after the passage of the strongest hurricane on record in the Caribbean. The Codrington Lagoon on Barbuda, for example – a beautifully preserved RAMSAR site – is home to the largest colony of Magnificent Frigatebirds in the region (around 2,500 pairs). It was breached during the storm and the sea has flowed in. Barbuda itself is now a scene of devastation, with almost all buildings damaged or destroyed and most inhabitants evacuated. So, what of the endemic Barbuda Warbler, a small bird that is Near Threatened (likely less than 2,000 individuals) – did it survive?

Moreover, human activity is already contributing to the changing island landscape on a perhaps unprecedented level. Barbuda itself is the proposed site of a tourism development that has already triggered controversy because of its possible impact on its fragile environment. Other large tourism and housing developments, mining and other industrial activities and urbanization are all threatening bird habitats across the region. The unchecked over-development of the Houston area, which replaced wetlands and woodlands with concrete was a major contributing factor to the excessive flooding.

The Barbuda Warbler is endemic to the tiny island of Barbuda which was decimated by Hurricane Irma. (Photo by Ted Eubanks)
The Barbuda Warbler is endemic to the tiny island of Barbuda which was decimated by Hurricane Irma. (Photo by Ted Eubanks)

While discussion and research into the impact of climate change on tropical weather patterns (in particular, the link to hurricanes) continues, issues such as rising sea levels and warming seas are becoming increasingly evident in the Caribbean. All of these factors combined increase the chance that a single event like Hurricane Irma may cause a species, such as the Barbuda Warbler to go extinct.

Last year, we recorded the devastating impact of Hurricane Matthew on birds in the Bahamas and Haiti, in particular. We also noted that some species “bounce back” more quickly than others.  After the storm passes, those birds that survive face long-term problems. In the path of the storm, trees and shrubs lose all their leaves, buds, flowers and fruits. Trees (often the older, larger trees that provide food and shelter) may be uprooted. Riverbanks are scoured and whole neighborhoods transformed. In hills and mountains, there is the threat of landslides. Damage to reefs and seagrass beds may decrease marine productivity. Nesting beaches may be washed away. Birds may lose their nests, shelter and food. Others get displaced to new areas, where they may not thrive.

What happens to birds in a hurricane?

Casper Burrows, a Bahamas National Trust Park Warden on Great Inagua, home to 40,000+ breeding American Flamingos, was elated to spot resident flamingoes feeding just after Hurricane Irma roared through the island. The flamingos had taken shelter in the mangrove vegetation. (Photo by Casper Burrows)
Casper Burrows, a Bahamas National Trust Park Warden on Great Inagua, home to 40,000+ breeding American Flamingos, was elated to spot resident flamingoes feeding just after Hurricane Irma roared through the island. The flamingos had taken shelter in the mangrove vegetation. (Photo by Casper Burrows)

We know that many species can respond to the indicators that a storm is nearby, such as a drop in barometric pressure, changes in temperature, rainfall and light. In some species these changes trigger them to change location. The Bahamas National Trust notes that its flamingoes, for example, will fly away ahead of a storm and some seabirds on the wing will increase their altitude to try to get above the storm. Many other species respond to threats by trying to hunker down in safe places. Migratory birds may change their plans, and depart earlier than usual. Some very brave Whimbrels have even been recorded flying directly into a storm – for example, one  named Chinquapin, braved Hurricane Irene in 2011. Read more here.

During and just after the passage of Hurricane Irma, Bahamian flamingoes were spotted, sheltered by coastal forest and mangroves, in storm conditions on the island of Great Inagua; and Cuban Parrots (Bahamas subspecies) were seen feeding on guinep fruit off the trees, which had somehow managed to retain its fruits. Some birds are true survivors, but with such a large and powerful storm as Irma, nowhere is entirely safe. Evidence is just now coming to light that many birds were killed outright during the storm, including thousands of flamingos in the Cayo Coco Cays of Cuba. Juvenile birds will fare worse than the adults. Often the impacts – on breeding cycles, for example – are indirect and more long term.

In 1998, Hurricane Gilbert displaced Black-billed Streamertail hummingbirds about 35 miles east from the dense wet limestone forests of eastern Jamaica to Kingston. A  kind citizen found many of these streamertails on her veranda, weak and hardly able to fly. She went from putting out two or three small bottles of sugar water to supplying more than 2 gallons a day. Her efforts undoubtedly saved hundreds of birds.

What can we do to help birds after a hurricane?

It may take weeks, months or decades for our forests, wetlands and gardens to return to their former glory. In the meantime, you can do a lot to help your local birds.

  • A Black-throated Blue Warbler feeding on fruit; this species winters in the Caribbean. (Photo by Anne Sutton)
    A Black-throated Blue Warbler feeding on fruit; this species winters in the Caribbean. (Photo by Anne Sutton)

    Remember the birds as you stock up with supplies, and maintain your hummingbird and seed feeders and bird baths.

  • Provide food for birds following the storm. Feeding birds does not require expensive feeders or equipment.
    • Seeds. Many pigeons and doves will eat cracked corn and small seed-eaters will take cracked rice. Watch out for changes in bird behaviour which may indicate food shortages. For example, White-crowned Pigeons may suddenly start feeding on the ground. If you see this, put out food in suitable places (ideally where birds are not vulnerable to cats).
    • Sugar water. You can make a hummingbird feeder from a bottle with a screw on cap by piercing a small hole in the cap. Fill it with sugar water (1 part sugar to 4 parts water). Use some wire to suspend the bottle at an angle in a place where hummingbirds will find it. You may need to put something red on the bottle to attract the birds initially.
    • Fruit. To provide fruit for birds, use a horizontal stake with 2 inch nails driven into it to put out left over fruit skins for birds.

What else can we do?

Unfortunately, many flamingos in the Cayo Coco Cays on the the north coast of Cuba did not survive the hurricane. (Photo by Granma.cu)
Unfortunately, many flamingos in the Cayo Coco Cays on the the north coast of Cuba did not survive the hurricane. (Photo by Granma.cu)

We need to document the impacts of hurricanes on birds so that we can determine which species have been affected and what we can do to help them. As soon as you can after the storm, take photographs and videos or take notes about:

  • the extent of damage to habitats (and the process of recovery);
  • observations of unusual behaviour by familiar birds;
  • observations of threatened or rare species in their habitat (that might indicate that they survived);
  • observations of dead birds; and
  • observations of unusual birds that may have been blown into your area by the storm ( see also http://birdcast.info/forecast/hurricane-irmas-impact-on-birds/).

Please also enter your observations into eBird Caribbean. You may also post your photos and observations on the BirdsCaribbean Facebook page, twitter (@BirdsCaribbean) and BirdsCaribbean Listserv (or send to Lisa.Sorenson@BirdsCaribbean.org).

Note that because birds may travel to or get blown off course to other islands during storms and hurricanes, it’s just as important to survey birds in other islands that were NOT affected. For example, the more southern Lesser Antillean islands (Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines) may serve as a refuge from hurricane events. Please go out and do some surveys and keep an eye out for different birds and vagrants in your islands!

In the long-term 

A Magnificent Frigatebird chick, part of the large nesting colony in Barbuda. (Photo by Ted Eubanks)
A Magnificent Frigatebird chick, part of the large nesting colony in Barbuda. (Photo by Ted Eubanks)

We need to take the opportunity to remind our policy-makers of the importance of maintaining and protecting our natural areas, and to continue public education among stakeholders. Intact mangroves provide the most effective protection from storm surge for coastal settlements and infrastructure. Wetlands soak up and store excess rain and protect surrounding areas and property from flooding. Forests prevent land slippage and flash flooding. Caribbean residents – whether town dwellers, farmers or fishermen – are seeing this for themselves in their daily lives.

Hurricane Irma will perhaps serve as a reminder that the delicate balance of our widely varied ecosystems is in jeopardy. As the University of Oklahoma’s Jeremy D. Ross  notes in his September 9 article, if we do not maintain a healthy natural environment, “We stand to lose not just an isolated songbird most people have never heard of, but potentially the vibrancy of entire ecosystems that provide the Caribbean its inherent allure.”

By Emma Lewis, Ann Sutton and Lisa Sorenson

Havana-Zapata Express: Memories from the BirdsCaribbean Pre-Conference Field Trip

Old Havana with it's beautiful colonial architecture. (Photo by Jessica Rozek)
Old Havana with it’s beautiful colonial architecture. (Photo by Jessica Rozek)

Seventeen strangers from three countries, Bahamas, Bermuda, and the United States, became fast friends on the BirdsCaribbean 4-day Pre-conference Tour. Naturalists, biologists, students, professors, teachers, accountants, business owners and managers, and retirees all shared one common interest – to explore Cuba and see the birds of Cuba and the Caribbean.

We were met at the airport on Saturday July 8th, settled in to the elegant Meliá Cohiba, and given our freedom for the first evening in Havana to stroll the Malecón and to explore the sights and sounds of Cuba. We were told that walking anywhere, anytime in Cuba was safe, and our experiences verified this truth. On Sunday morning, Atila, our Cuban tour guide, started us off with a walking tour of Old Havana. Ambling along while learning history, seeing colonial architecture, street musicians, and cobbled streets busy with tourists and locals alike made for a lovely morning.  Lunch was to the accompaniment of music – music everywhere.

With our tour guide Atíla during the walking tour of old Havana. (Photo by Ericka Gates)
With our tour guide Atila during the walking tour of old Havana. (Photo by Erika Gates)

Between observations around our hotel and our tour of the City we saw the first of our Cuban endemics – the Cuban Blackbird. After lunch, the group piled in to taxis for a walk through the National Botanical Gardens about 30 minutes outside of Havana. There we spotted 13 different species including the Red-legged Honeycreeper, the Great Lizard Cuckoo, and the Yellow-faced Grassquit, not endemics, but exciting none the less. A note here – we were a large group of birders, so numbers of birds observed are from my notes, and many of the more experienced might well have seen more species!

On Sunday evening we were treated to a spectacular Caribbean sunset from the Castillo de San Carlos de la Cabaña. The old fort overlooks the beautiful the Havana harbor, and we watched as darkness fell and the city came to a sparkling enchantment of lights. We had gathered for the re-enactment of the firing of the cannon – a centuries old tradition warning the population that the gates to the fort were about to be closed for the evening.

Red-legged Honeycreeper at the Botanical Gardens outside Havana. (Photo by Ericka Gates)
Red-legged Honeycreeper at the Botanical Gardens outside Havana. (Photo by Erika Gates)

Monday morning we loaded on to our comfortable, air-conditioned bus with Atila, and picked up our bird guide extraordinaire, Maydiel Cañizares Morera, who works for Zapata Swamp National Park. We headed off for Playa Larga in the Bay of Pigs (Bahía de Cochinos) and settled in to our little bungalow accommodations. That afternoon Maydiel took us to “Zunzuncito House” in Paplite, where our hosts Bernabe and Juanita, introduced us to their frequent visitors, the Bee Hummingbirds. The smallest bird in the world – what a treat! There we also saw the Cuban Oriole, the Cuban Emeralds, West Indian Woodpecker, and the ever-present Cuban Blackbirds and House Sparrows.

Our next stop was the forests and savannahs of Soplillar. Despite threatening rain clouds and thick swarms of mosquitos, we intrepidly followed Maydiel, binoculars and cameras at the ready. We were delighted with seeing the Gray-fronted Quail-Dove, the Bare-legged Owl, the Cuban Pygmy-Owl, the Cuban Trogan, the Cuban Tody, the Cuban Green Woodpecker, and the illusive Fernandina’s Flicker. Seeing seven Cuban endemics in one afternoon reflects on Maydiel’s knowledge and skill as a guide. He’s brilliant! This was just day one of birding with Maydiel.

Several female Bee Humingbirds showed off while the group caught fleeting glimpses of two males. (Photo by Ericka Gates)
Several female Bee Humingbirds showed off while the group caught fleeting glimpses of two males. (Photo by Erika Gates)

Tuesday morning, ah, Tuesday morning. Our bus took us to the Cocorilla Canals in Santo Tomás, a saw-grass filled swampy area of Zapata. This small hamlet sits back off the grid of power and telephone lines, and it was here that we met the boatmen that would glide us through the swamp. As we drove up to the small cluster of homes, Maydiel commented, “There’s been a lot of rain, and we have to walk to the boats,” a subtle warning that the trail to our boats would be a wet one. Ha! We were headed to one of only two known locations for the Zapata Wren and one of three locations for the Zapata Sparrow (also known as the Cuban Sparrow) so not a single member of the group hesitated to carry on.

As we trekked through thigh-high water I asked the renowned Bermudian octogenarian conservationist, David Wingate, on his journeys to see a particular bird, how did this experience rate?  “Oh, right up there at the top,” he commented, “right up there at the top.” It was worth it, though, as we were serenaded by the Zapata Wren, and spotted three more endemics, the Zapata Sparrow, the Cuban Vireo, the Cuban Bullfinch. In addition, that morning we saw another 31 species, including a Crested Caracara on the ride back to Playa Larga.

Heading out into Zapata Swamp. (Photo by Ericka Gates)
Heading out into Zapata Swamp. (Photo by Erika Gates)
Catching a glimpse of Cuban Vireos and Yellow-headed Warblers in Bermeja. (Photo by Ericka Gates)
Catching a glimpse of Cuban Vireos and Yellow-headed Warblers in Bermejas. (Photo by Erika Gates)

After a casual lunch near the beach, we were bused 18 miles to Sandero Salinas de Brito.  Riding and walking the road surrounded on both sides by salt flats, we added the Cuban Black Hawk to our list of endemics. We also had the pleasure of seeing about 800 American Flamingos, a Stygian Owl, Osprey, Reddish Egrets, a white morph Great Blue Heron, White Ibis, a Snowy Egret, and a lone Roseate Spoonbill – 25 species in all that afternoon. I especially enjoyed watching the hundreds of land crabs scuttling out of the way of our bus as we headed back to Playa Larga.

After our final dinner at Playa Larga, we packed for an early departure in search of the Blue-headed Quail-Dove in the Refugio de Fauna Bermejas.  Despite a long quiet walk through the forest we had no luck with the Quail-Doves. Though many in our group had previously seen this bird, it was my first good look at the endemic Yellow-headed Warbler. We saw and heard 14 species on that walk, and long will I remember the sound of the Cuban Trogan echoing through woods, a haunting, whooping call from Cuban’s national bird.

Since we were early for lunch at Caleta Buena, we birdwatched and idled on the beach, swam in the rock formation pools, and sipped drinks in the shade of palm trees while Cave Swallows swooped overhead. We spotted the singular Laughing Gull seen on the trip. After a generous buffet lunch, we continued with our slow, steady climb up to Topes de Collantes for the BirdCaribbean 2017 conference.

What a memorable birding experience! Seventeen amazing, talented dedicated birders sharing and enjoying our four-day trip through the lush, green Cuban countryside. The trip was well-organized, and our tour guide Atila was thoughtful and informative. Food was plentiful and for me, that cold Cristal cerveza provided with our meals hit the spot! Our birding guide, Maydiel, made finding so many endemics look easy, a reflection of his knowledge of his country and its birds. We learned about Cuba, the history, the habitats and the birds. I think I speak for all of the participants when we tumbled in to our hotels in Topes de Collantes, we were blown away with our four-day pre-conference birding experience and it will be a cherished memory of a lifetime.

Please scroll over or click on the photos below for captions.

By Martha Cartwright. Martha is a U.S. citizen who has lived in Freeport, Bahamas for 31 years. After becoming a widow in 2013 she started feeding and studying the fish in her canal. One day she looked up and noticed the birds and hasn’t looked down since. She counts her blessings for the tutelage of eBird’s Erika Gates and for a dedicated birding community on Grand Bahama. She teaches yoga and postural alignment therapy when she isn’t birding.

For more fun articles on the BirdsCaribbean 21st International Conference in Cuba, July 2017, check out the following:

Commitment to Conservation (and Adventure) Create an Unforgettable BirdsCaribbean Conference

Coffee, Cave, and a Shot of Expresso

BirdsCaribbean Cuba Conference Connects Scientists and Promotes Conservation

David Wingate Honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award

BirdsCaribbean Conference in Cuba to Highlight Tourism, Technology and More

Exciting Speakers Lined Up for BirdsCaribbean’s 21st International Conference in Cuba

Cuba to Host BirdsCaribbean’s 21st International Conference

David Wingate Honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Wingate is pictured with BC President Andrew Dobson and BC Executive Director Lisa Sorenson.
Dr. Wingate is pictured with BC President Andrew Dobson and BC Executive Director Lisa Sorenson.

At the recently concluded BirdsCaribbean 21st Conference Meeting in Cuba, Dr. David Wingate was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his “exceptional knowledge and contributions to avian knowledge and conservation in Bermuda and the Caribbean”.

David Wingate was born in 1935 in Bermuda, he studied Zoology at Cornell University and went on to become the Conservation Officer for the Bermuda Government Parks Department from 1966 to his retirement in 2000.

For almost 300 years, no Cahows were reported from Bermuda (or anywhere else) until occasional corpses were found on the islands through the first half of the 20th Century. In 1950, David Wingate was a 15 year-old schoolboy in Bermuda, and was certain that the bird survived and must be breeding somewhere on the islets at the entrance to Castle Harbour. He determined to locate the nests and took a kayak across the bay to search for them. The sea was too rough for him to land, but he returned the following year with the eminent seabird biologist Robert Murphy, and nesting Cahows were found.

David Wingate at bird art competition in Bermuda.
David Wingate at bird art competition in Bermuda.
However, the species was still critically endangered. There were only a handful of pairs, and in 1951 perhaps eight chicks were reared. David Wingate determined to save this bird from extinction and has spent most of his life spent endeavouring to do so. Problems were faced and surmounted. Nest burrows were frequently taken over by White-tailed Tropicbirds Phaethon lepturus and the contents destroyed. Wingate designed and installed ‘bafflers’ with an entrance too small for tropicbirds but allowing access for Cahows. There were few burrows on the islets. Wingate created artificial burrows – with access ports so the nests could be monitored. By his retirement in 2000, the population had grown to over 50 pairs.

Crucially David mentored and trained Jeremy Madeiros to take over the recovery programme. Birds are now breeding on six islands including birds translocated onto Nonsuch Island. The Cahow population continues to grow with a record 117 pairs and 61 fledglings in 2017.

The re-discovery of the Cahow’s breeding grounds was his inspiration for a life involving birds and natural history. He is also credited with rediscovering the Black-capped Petrel in Haiti in 1963. The restoration of the once barren Nonsuch Island into a ‘Living Museum of pre-colonial Bermuda’ is Dr. Wingate’s lifetime work, and part of his effort to bring back from near-extinction Bermuda’s national bird, the Cahow. He has been a crucial part of Bermuda Audubon Society (since its formation in 1954) and a founder of the Bermuda National Trust. He also served on the board of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, and as a research associate of the Bermuda Zoological Society.

David Wingate with baffler.
David Wingate with baffler.
David’s conservation efforts have been wide-ranging, focussing on many species including the Green Sea Turtle Chelonia mydas, Bermuda Rock Skink Plestiodon longirostris, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Nyctanassa violacea, and Bermuda population of Common Tern Sterna hirundo, Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis, and White-eyed Vireo Vireo griseus. It is remarkable that at 81 years old David Wingate remains an active and leading conservationist on Bermuda. He has been responsible for the creation and restoration of numerous wetland habitats in Bermuda.

Amongst his many honours are two from Queen Elizabeth ll and one from the King of the Netherlands. Few Bermudians are known outside their country. David is one of those who commands respect for his conservation efforts. The success of the Nonsuch Island restoration project is used as a model worldwide. The success of the Cahow recovery programme is known throughout the world. He is quite simply the most influential, passionate, knowledgeable and untiring conservationist and naturalist that Bermuda has ever seen.

BirdsCaribbean Cuba Conference Connects Scientists and Promotes Conservation

BirdsCaribbean members learn the latest in bird science and conservation.
BirdsCaribbean members learn the latest in bird science and conservation.

Over 240 scientists, teachers and conservationists came together in Cuba this month at BirdsCaribbean’s 21st International Conference in Topes de Collantes Nature Reserve Park. Held every two years, it is the only time when this far-flung community has a chance to work face-to-face to improve how birds are studied and protected. The event included nearly 150 presentations and workshops over five days.

“This year’s theme was Celebrating Caribbean Diversity,” explained BirdsCaribbean Director Lisa Sorenson. “We love the variety of birds here, but the diversity of our members is even more important. We brought people here from dozens of islands. We have different cultures and languages, but we all face similar challenges. The chance to share ideas improves our work all over the region.”

Vegas Grande waterfall was one of the many amazing sites in Topes de Collantes. (Photo by Arnaldo Toledo)
Vegas Grande waterfall was one of the many amazing sites in Topes de Collantes. (Photo by Arnaldo Toledo)

BirdsCaribbean is the region’s largest conservation group. Programs like the Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival, which highlights birds found only in the region, reach over 100,000 people each year. At the conference, festival coordinators on different islands share ideas and activities. Others are inspired to launch festivals on their islands for the first time.

Researchers sharing their work give ideas that can help save birds. Members learn how birds recover after hurricanes or prosper when farmers plant shade trees over their coffee. Then they can bring bird-saving tools back to their own islands. This year, one highlight was the large number of Cuban scientists; 69 attended from all over the country.

“For almost 30 years, BirdsCaribbean has helped share the work of Cuban scientists with the rest of the world,” said BirdsCaribbean President Andrew Dobson. “Helping this collaboration has been a very rewarding part of our mission. It was also a joy to spend time with so many Cuban friends in one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful nature reserves.”

Program cover for BirdsCaribbean's 21st International Conference in Cuba. (design by Rolando Ata).
Program cover for BirdsCaribbean’s 21st International Conference in Cuba. (design by Rolando Ata)

After five days of sharing stories and bird-sightings, members flew home to their islands. Each one brought back new skills and ideas. Tools developed on one island will soon be helping birds on others. Though many may do their work alone, they have friends and allies across the sea. In two years, the next conference will unite them again.

More information on the conference, including the program (file available for download), is available here.

BirdsCaribbean is very grateful to our local host organization, Sociedad Cubana de Zoologia, and  the organizations, agencies and companies operating in Cuba that provided a donation of services and/or products to assist in hosting the conference:
Conectando Paisajes
CPP-OP15 Manejo Sostenible de Tierras
Gaviota Grupo de Turismo Cuba
Havana Club
Instituto de Ecología y Sistemática
Agencia de Viajes San Cristóbal
Sociedad Cubana de Zoología

We would also like to thank the many other funders and contributors from other parts of the Caribbean and the U.S. that provided support of this conference. This support enabled a number of Caribbean nationals to attend and participate, and also helped to cover the many costs of holding this conference.
Audubon International Alliances Program
Blue Horizons Garden Resort
Caribbean Conservation Trust
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Eagle Optics
EasySky Airlines
MacArthur Foundation
Optics for the Tropics
Rare Species Conservatory Foundation
The Friendship Association
Vortex Optics
Wildside Nature Tours

See additional articles about the conference:
Coffee, Cave, and a Shot of Expresso
David Wingate Honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award
BirdsCaribbean Conference in Cuba to Highlight Tourism, Technology and More
Exciting Speakers Lined Up for BirdsCaribbean’s 21st International Conference in Cuba
Cuba to Host BirdsCaribbean’s 21st International Conference

BirdsCaribbean Conference in Cuba to Highlight Tourism, Technology and More

Enjoying birds and photography in Viñales Valley, Cuba (photo by Lora Leschner, BirdsCaribbean March 2017 Bird Tour).
Enjoying birds and photography in Viñales Valley, Cuba (photo by Lora Leschner, BirdsCaribbean March 2017 Bird Tour).

2017 is the UN’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. So, what better topic to consider than that of Caribbean bird tourism for sustainable development and conservation?

Speakers at the BirdsCaribbean 21st International Conference in Topes de Collantes, Cuba (July 13 – 17) will be digging deeper into the eco-tourism field, and the potential of birding as a tourist attraction. Recent trends suggest that a more discerning and independent traveler in the Caribbean – as elsewhere in the world – has emerged, who is looking for a unique, authentic experience. Much greater sensitivity towards the culture and environment is a critical component of this – and of sustainable tourism in general.

Skip Glenn, Marking Professor at University of Pittsburgh.
Skip Glenn, Marking Professor at University of Pittsburgh.

So, although Caribbean tourism was built on the “sun, sea and sand” concept, it is evolving. In a highly competitive field some models need to be redesigned to cope with changing demands, says Assistant Professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship at the University of Pittsburgh Skip Glenn. In Cuba, Glenn will discuss that critical “balance” that will build profit for entrepreneurs, while at the same time ensuring the preservation of natural resources and sustainable growth in communities.

Another recent trend is “sharing” via social media and online in general. Judy Karwacki of Small Planet Consulting in Vancouver, Canada will explore this growing tendency among travelers, many of whom are looking to “live like a local.” At the Cuba conference, Karwacki will provide practical marketing information and tips for birding tourism destinations.

Judy Karwacki of Small Planet travel (photo by Tamea Burd Photography)
Judy Karwacki of Small Planet travel (photo by Tamea Burd Photography)

One example of a bird tourism model is the Caribbean Birding Trail (CBT), developed by BirdsCaribbean, which aims to raise awareness (and enjoyment) of the remarkable diversity of birds in the region and to encourage their conservation. CBT’s aim is to work with partners on every island to offer training at the local level in bird-centered, sustainable tourism that includes experiencing local culture and heritage.

Holly Robertson and Lisa Sorenson will have plenty to update participants at the Cuba conference on the “latest” from the CBT, which has held interpretive guide trainings in Grenada, Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Bonaire to date. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Marshall-Reynolds Foundation have funded supporting activities, including marketing products, an interpretive panel for Jamaica’s Cockpit Country, and improving trails and infrastructure in the Dominican Republic. The CBT is moving ahead!

Jan tries the cigar
Trying a Cuban cigar at a tobacco farm in Viñales Valley is part of the fun on the Caribbean Birding Trail in Cuba (photo by Lisa Sorenson, BirdsCaribbean January 2017 Bird Tour)

There is much more to absorb and enjoy at the conference in Topes de Collantes. An informative and interactive Cuba Day will celebrate advances in the study and conservation of the island’s endemic, resident and migratory birds. A specific threat to bird populations on the island is the culture of caged birds; a workshop led by Gary Markowski of the Caribbean Conservation Trust will address this major concern and seek solutions.

The use of technology is something that no conservationist can ignore; the range of available tools expands almost daily. The use of drones for conservation is a fascinating topic, for example. Dr. David Bird, Professor Emeritus of Wildlife Biology at McGill University, will discuss the use of small unmanned aerial vehicle systems in monitoring populations of birds that are hard to access. Other technology-related topics will include how to use a GPS, mapping, and the value of eBird for conservation planning.

Would you like to write more fluently about birds, for a more general audience? The energetic Mark Yokoyama, co-founder of Les Fruits de Mer in St. Martin, will guide participants through a practical and motivating workshop on non-technical writing.

Zapata Wren, a rare Cuban endemic, confined to the Zapata Swamp is a much sought after bird for both avi-tourists on the Caribbean Birding Trail and researchers. (photo by Anne Brooks, BirdsCaribbean January 2017 Bird Tour).
Zapata Wren, a rare Cuban endemic, confined to the Zapata Swamp is a much sought after bird for both avi-tourists on the Caribbean Birding Trail and researchers. (photo by Anne Brooks, BirdsCaribbean January 2017 Bird Tour).

The conference schedule will also include stimulating talks and workshops on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s exciting BirdSleuth Caribbean program, which is making an impact in science education throughout the islands; a symposium on recent advances in seabird conservation in the Caribbean; and a roundtable discussion on long-term bird monitoring and banding in the region.

By the way – it’s not too late to register for the 21st International Conference in the beautiful Topes de Collantes Nature Reserve Park. For more details, please visit the Conference website.

Read more about the conference at this link and more about keynote speakers at this link.  Thank you so much to the generous sponsors supporting our conference!

By Emma Lewis, Blogger, Writer and Online Activist, based in Kingston, Jamaica. Follow Emma at Petchary’s Blog—Cries from Jamaica.

 

The Vampire Diaries: Searching for Seabird Blood in the Sunny Caribbean

Roseate tern chick, ready for sample collection. (Photo by Paige Byerly)
Roseate Tern chick, ready for sample collection. (Photo by Paige Byerly)

In the pursuit of wildlife research, I’ve climbed cliffs, dodged black bears, ridden in tiny planes through turbulent mountain air, jumped into surging ocean waters, and hiked alone through remote wilderness. None of these activities have scared me as much as handling my first Roseate Tern chick, a delicate ball of fluff just hours from the egg, as I prepared to take a blood sample. Hands shaking, trying to ignore the shifting of my colleague, Daniel, as he moved to a better vantage point, I carefully stretched out the chick’s back leg, searching for the threadlike femoral vein. Anxious tern parents called and swooped above us in the early morning sky, and the chick peeped quietly in my hand. I angled the needle and, taking a deep breath, slid it gently in. My reward was a perfect bead of red blood. I transferred the blood into a vial of storage solution, handed Daniel the chick to return to the nest, and leaned back to savor the short moment of victory. One sample down, 29 to go.

Paige taking time to enjoy the moment in the LeDuck island colony, chick in hand. (Photo by Chris Pavlik)
Paige taking time to enjoy the moment in the LeDuck island colony, chick in hand. (Photo by Chris Pavlik)

This spring I started my first full field season researching Caribbean Roseate Terns. These gorgeous larids are an especially challenging seabird to study, as anyone who’s tried will be quick to tell you. Like many seabirds, Roseate Terns nest on small islands, which offer a relatively predator-free habitat to raise chicks. Unlike many seabirds, they move colony sites almost yearly, for reasons we haven’t yet been able to determine. In the Virgin Islands, which host ~50% of the Caribbean population, Roseate Terns have over 26 potential nesting cays that they choose from. That means that any research activities must first involve locating the birds, then figuring out a plan for that unique colony site. Caribbean Roseate Terns are also easily disturbed, and are prone to colony abandonment. Too much research activity in the colony could lower their reproductive success, which is the opposite goal of our efforts. For all these reasons, determining colony success through means such regular nest checks is not possible for this population, forcing us to get a little more creative.

Adult roseate tern couple displaying courtship behavior in the LeDuck island colony. (Photo by Daniel Nellis)
Adult Roseate Tern pair displaying courtship behavior in the LeDuck island colony. (Photo by Daniel Nellis)

Because Roseate Terns have such a large range, and aren’t too interested in country boundaries, effective conservation planning for this species requires collaborating across borders. I’ve teamed up with researchers from several organizations in the Caribbean for this project, chief among them Susan Zaluski from the British Virgin Islands’ Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society and Daniel Nellis from the US Virgin Islands Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. In addition to developing a standardized monitoring plan to use between the two territories, we’re working to answer some of the basic questions regarding Roseate Tern ecology in the region. Because nesting cays are so difficult to regularly access, we’re using motion-activated game cameras installed at nests to be our eyes in the colonies. This year, we have cameras in six active colonies. We’re hoping that the images from these cameras will help us better understand the role of predation in colonies, as well as incubation behavior and hatching success.

 The USVI Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s trusty boat, the R/V Bananaquit, waiting for us at a colony site. (Photo by Paige Byerly)
The USVI Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s trusty boat, the R/V Bananaquit, waiting for us at a colony site. (Photo by Paige Byerly)

Roseate Terns are declining across the Caribbean, and we don’t know why. Are population declines due to low nest success at colony sites, or to low adult survival on wintering grounds? The breeding season is only part of a Roseate Tern’s year, and come August they will leave the Virgin Islands. Band returns have indicated that the birds travel to wintering grounds in South America, but we know very little about their non-breeding movements. Roseate Terns are smaller and lighter than other terns, and this has made following their movements using technology like satellite tags difficult. To answer some of the larger questions regarding population health and movement, we’re turning to another source: DNA. Caribbean Roseate Terns aren’t alone in North America—there is also a well-studied population in New England. These two populations are believed to share wintering grounds, but aren’t thought to interbreed. Such isolation is unusual for such far-flying seabirds, particularly as it’s thought that the migratory pathway of the Northeastern population takes them through the Caribbean. We’re partnering with agencies in the US to determine relatedness between Caribbean and Northeastern Roseate Terns through genetic analysis. Genetic information will give us a better idea of the population health of Caribbean Roseate Terns, and will provide some intriguing clues on who they’re mixing with on their wintering grounds, which might better help us understand where they’re going.

Vial of precious roseate tern blood, ready for analysis! (Photo by Paige Byerly)
Vial of precious Roseate Tern blood, ready for analysis! (Photo by Paige Byerly)

Which brings us back to that first morning of sampling. It’s best to get blood from chicks less than 3 days old. Younger chicks are easier to catch, and their skin is thinner and easier to pierce with a needle. They also seem to heal more quickly, with bleeding stopping within seconds—sometimes too quickly for me to get a full sample. All these sampling considerations make geneticist researchers like myself sound particularly, well, bloodthirsty, and have led to us being characterized as “vampires.” It’s a nickname I’ll proudly answer to, knowing as I do all the amazing secrets hidden in that remarkable substance. Unlike mammal blood, avian blood is nucleated, meaning that every blood cell contains copies of DNA. That DNA can tell us the history of an entire species and beyond, if only we can find exactly the right questions to ask and the right tools for answering them.

Figuring out the best timing for our DNA sampling required four separate boat excursions to locate the most accessible tern colony and estimate when the majority of eggs would hatch. After deciding that LeDuck island would be the best candidate for sampling, we returned early one morning to swim our gear onto the islands in waterproof coolers, then hiked through waist-length thorny brush to reach the terns. I set up my sampling station on a flat boulder, and Daniel and my visiting husband worked the colony, locating the tiny chicks and bringing them to me bundled up in hats, hands, pockets, and bandanas. We moved between colony sections to allow anxious tern parents to return to their nests, working as quickly as possible to minimize stress to the colony.

 Intrepid tern biologist Daniel Nellis swims ashore with research gear. Watch out for sea urchins! (Photo by Paige Byerly)
Intrepid tern biologist Daniel Nellis swims ashore with research gear. Watch out for sea urchins! (Photo by Paige Byerly)

In all the haste, I still made sure to take a moment to breathe, look around, and enjoy the view. All that research planning, all those questions, came down to two short hours in the field and those 30 precious vials of blood. A year of collaborative effort went into my sitting on that boulder, first chick in hand, and I wanted to make sure that I took the time to appreciate it. After the Birds Caribbean conference in Cuba (hope to see you there!) I’ll be heading back to Louisiana to lock myself in the lab and get started on analyzing all this data. I’m so excited to see where these results take us, and look forward to sharing my findings with you all in the future!

Paige Byerly is a PhD student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Her research investigating genetic diversity among Roseate Terns in the Virgin Islands is supported by a grant from the BirdsCaribbean David S. Lee Fund and a research fellowship from the National Science Foundation. The Caribbean Roseate Tern, is a threatened metapopulation of Sterna dougallii dougallii, and thought to be declining across its range. Her research will help conservationists better understand the migratory ecology and population vulnerability of Roseate Terns. 

Report from Global Big Day 2017: Birding’s Biggest Day Ever

Cuban Tody was one of the 26 species reported from Cuba on Global Big Day. (photo by Photo by Yeray Seminario/ Macaulay Library)
Cuban Tody was one of the 26 species reported from Cuba on Global Big Day. (photo by Photo by Yeray Seminario/ Macaulay Library)

Birds are inspiring creatures. Their amazing migrations and behaviors capture our imagination, and their global presence lets us appreciate them wherever we are in the world. The power that birds have to bring people together across cultures, languages, and international borders is truly exceptional. Global Big Day is the realization of the magic of birds—a single day where the birding world unites in a shared pursuit, seeking to answer the simple question: how many birds can be seen in one day?

On 13 May 2017, almost 20,000 birders from 150 countries around the world joined together as a global team, contributing more than 50,000 checklists containing 6,564 species—more than 60% of the world’s birds. This is a new record for the number of bird species reported in a single day!

Crested Quail-Dove, endemic to Jamaica, was spotted by Ann Sutton. (photo by Sam Woods)
Crested Quail-Dove, endemic to Jamaica, was spotted by Ann Sutton. (photo by Sam Woods)

With one of the highest endemic species ratios, the avifauna of the West Indies is important to have represented on Global Big Day. In the eBird Caribbean region*, 280 species were seen – Check out the list of species reported. Ninety-two participants submitted 334 checklists. These totals are lower than last year’s Global Big Day, but perhaps some people still have not entered their data. Note that it is not too late – your checklists will still be counted!

Birders in Trinidad and Tobago sighted the most number of species—164 in the region. The Bahamas and Puerto Rico were in second and third place with 129 and 95 species observed, respectively, and there was participation through many of the islands—21 countries/islands submitted checklists (see how your country compared to the rest of the region and world here). Thanks to all of you that helped spread the word and participated!

Global Big Day is a celebration of birds. By bringing people together, Global Big Day showcases the great birds from each region—helping bring awareness to birding and conservation regionally and globally. Cornell Lab of Ornithology reports that this year (as in previous Global Big Days), the friendly competition in South America continued to evolve as an inspiring story, with four countries topping 1,000 for the single-day tally: Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia. In past years Brazil and Peru had always vied for the #1 slot for species totals, and in 2017 there is a new champion: Colombia. Next year, let’s set a goal for the West Indies to see the most endemics in a region, it can be done!

Thanks again to everyone who participated and made this Global Big Day successful. We hope you had a great time and will continue to participate in eBird Caribbean and future Global Big Days. Of course, eBird Caribbean doesn’t only exist on one day of the year. Global Big Day is just one of 365 opportunities/year to be a part of a global network of birdwatchers, researchers, and conservationists working together with a shared passion for birds. Any bird that you see, anywhere, at any time, can become a part of this global resource—helping your fellow birdwatchers as well as the birds that we all care about. So take a look at eBird Mobile, or how to find birds near you. Go out, explore, have fun, and let all of us know what you saw. Your sightings can help change the world. We’ll see you out there.

*The countries comprising the eBird Caribbean portal consist of the West Indies plus Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, and Bermuda.

For a more complete report on Global Big Day, click here.

Exciting Speakers Lined Up for BirdsCaribbean’s 21st International Conference in Cuba

Topes Waterfalls-Lisa and Jen
Lisa Sorenson and Jennifer Wheeler wave from one of the many beautiful waterfalls at Topes de Collantes National Park. (photo by Maikel Canizares)

The BirdsCaribbean International Conferences, which take place every two years, are always enriching experiences for scientists, ornithologists, conservationists, students, teachers and bird enthusiasts from across the Caribbean. This year’s conference, which will take place in the beautiful Topes de Collantes region of southern Cuba from 13-17 July, 2017, promises to be no exception.

This year’s theme is “Celebrating Caribbean Diversity.” The organizers aim to make the 2017 meeting even more exciting than the 2015 meeting in Jamaica, which was attended by over 260 delegates. The planned conference program offers a taste of what’s in store. Distinguished keynote speakers will discuss a range of topics of significance to the region’s ecology and biodiversity, including conservation challenges, technological advances, civil society outreach and the latest research and educational programs.

Lourdes Mugica-REV
Dr. Lourdes Mugica Valdez, ornithologist and professor at the University of Havana, Cuba.

Headlining the all-star line-up of international keynote speakers is award-winning ornithologist Professor Lourdes Mugica Valdés of the University of Havana. Dr. Mugica will discuss her three decades of work on Cuba’s aquatic birds and their wetland habitats conducted with the University’s Bird Ecology Group.

Dr. Hiram González will present the work of Cuba’s Institute of Ecology and Systematics group on bird migration. Cuba is an incredibly important stopover and wintering site for migratory birds and the Cuban government has set up an impressive network of protected areas to conserve biodiversity, including Cuba’s 26 endemic bird species. As more and more tourists and birders flock to Cuba, however, there is more to be done with international partners to ensure that as many important habitats as possible are not destroyed for development.

Robert_Eric_Ricklefs
Dr. Robert Ricklefs, Ornithologist and Ecologist, Curators’ Professor of Biology at the University of Missouri, St. Louis.

Dr. Robert Ricklefs, Ornithologist and Ecologist and Curators’ Professor of Biology at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, will give a talk focusing on the conference theme of diversity, highlighting how the Caribbean is a global hotspot for birds. He will provide an overview of the evolutionary history of Caribbean birds, island biogeography, and host-parasite evolution (i.e., birds and malaria), using his own research in the Caribbean as well as others, to illustrate how populations expand(which may lead to the formation of new species), and decline over time. He will show how understanding genetic differences between avian populations also informs us about evolutionary uniqueness of island birds and can help us to develop conservation programs.

David Winkler, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology (EEB) at Cornell University.
David Winkler, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology (EEB) at Cornell University.

Cornell University’s Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Dr. David W. Winkler, will talk about his comparative research on swallows in the genus Tachycineta with partners throughout the Western Hemisphere. He will also share the work he is doing with engineers to develop new technologies for tracking bids and discovering more about their lives, including very lightweight, long-lasting radio tags with ever-expanding capabilities.

Conservation issues are always high on the agenda, and Dr. Nicasio Viña Dávila, Technical Coordinator of the Caribbean Biological Corridor of the United Nations Environment Programme, will present his perspective on those burning issues directly impacting conservation in the Caribbean.

Dominican Republic-based consultant Ms. Leida Buglass, who is Secretary for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Caribbean Regional Committee, will talk about how important it is to engage with partners in civil society to advance bird and habitat conservation, including case studies and lessons learned from many years of community work.

Dr. Nicasio Viña Dávila, Conservation Biologist, Technical Coordinator of the Caribbean Biological Corridor.
Dr. Nicasio Viña Dávila, Conservation Biologist, Technical Coordinator of the Caribbean Biological Corridor.

And there’s more. Informative sessions and training workshops include promoting sustainable bird tourism and updates on the Caribbean Birding Trail, bird education, the use of media to promote conservation issues, the state of Caribbean forest endemic birds, ecology of migrants, and many more.

There will also be a special Cuba Day, where local ornithologists will share the work they are doing to study and conserve the island’s rich bird life and habitats. There is much to learn and enjoy!

For additional information and registration information, visit the meeting website here. Read more about the conference here and other speakers and sessions here.

Thank you so much to the generous sponsors supporting our conference!

Global Big Day is 13 May 2017

The West Indian Woodpecker, endemic to the Bahamas, Cuba and the Cayman Islands, is one of the 172 Caribbean endemics we hope will be counted on Global Big Day. (Photo by Bill Hebner)
The West Indian Woodpecker, endemic to the Bahamas, Cuba and the Cayman Islands, is one of the 172 Caribbean endemics we hope will be counted on Global Big Day. (Photo by Bill Hebner)

How many birds can a world of birders find in one day? Hopefully, you will join us to find out on May 13th — Global Big Day. This is the single biggest day for eBird and we’re inviting everyone to spend some time counting and enjoying Caribbean birds to help support global conservation efforts (and to have some fun in the process). Last year was a huge success that broke records around the world and across the Caribbean. The question is: Can we do it again?

More than one hundred Caribbean birders participated in last year’s Global Big Day, setting a new Global Big Day record for the Caribbean itself- 428 species! Thank you for making this possible. Your contributions to the past two Global Big Days have set back-to-back world records for the most bird species seen in a single day. Last year’s Global Big Day featured more than 60% of the world’s bird species in a single day (6,299!), with sightings coming in from more than 17,500 eBirders spread across 154 countries. 

Want to be a part of the fun this year? If you need an excuse to go enjoy birds on a lovely weekend day in May, we’ve got you covered. The West Indies, with it’s 175 endemic bird species, along with it’s near endemics and endemic subspecies, will be key in gathering a snapshot of bird distribution around the globe. 

If you’re looking to get started preparing for this year’s Global Big Day, here are four quick ways to have the most fun:

  1. “Scout” your birding spots for May 13. Finding where the birds are ahead of time makes the big day birding more fun, and also gives you more chances to be out enjoying birds. Perfect. Learn how to use eBird to find birds. 
  2. Hopefully, a few migrants, like this Ovenbird, are still lingering in the islands and will be included in some checklists! (photo by Bill Hebner)
    Hopefully, a few migrants, like this Ovenbird, are still lingering in the islands and will be included in some checklists! (photo by Bill Hebner)

    Use eBird Mobile. This free data-entry app makes it so you don’t have to enter your sightings at the end of the day, and tools like Quick Entry mean you have less time with your face in a notebook. Get eBird Mobile here.

  3. Get a friend involved. Perhaps this is a good birding buddy, or someone who has never been birding before. Make it a friendly competition, or join forces as a Global Big Day team, and put your marker on the global participation map. Share on social media using #eBird_GBD. Check out the Facebook event.
  4. Participating in Global Big Day is a great way to celebrate the Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival, ongoing now! Make this a part of your celebration and organize a birding outing with family, friends or your community.

No matter what you do—have a great time, enjoy the birds around you, and let us know what you find! We’re excited to see what we can achieve together on Global Big Day.

Training participants practicing their bird identification on Burnt Hill Road in Cockpit Country. Photo by Lisa Sorenson.
Identifying and counting birds in Cockpit Country, Jamaica. (Photo by Lisa Sorenson)

And don’t forget to enter your Caribbean bird counts into eBird Caribbean – our own portal. All the data goes to the same place but we have some of our own protocols (Step 2 of data submission), for example, counts conducted at wetlands, ponds, mud flats and beaches can be entered as Caribbean Waterbird Census counts.

BirdSleuth Caribbean Curriculum Now Available in French!

The new French version of BirdSleuth Caribbean - 57 pages of lessons and activities.
The new French version of BirdSleuth Caribbean (Connecting Kids through Birds—Teaching how to study, appreciate, and conserve endemic and migratory birds in the Caribbean) – 57 pages of lessons and activities.

BirdsCaribbean is excited to announce that our popular BirdSleuth Caribbean curriculum and supporting materials are now available in French.

BirdSleuth Caribbean is an innovative program designed to teach young learners how to study, appreciate and conserve Caribbean birds. It is part of a larger BirdSleuth program developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The original, US-based BirdSleuth program was adapted specifically for the Caribbean and has been a success in engaging students across the region with their native birds.

This BirdSleuth curriculum includes many fun activities which are perfect for kids that benefit from a hands-on lesson—and who doesn’t? Activities include creating a bird journal, learning how to use binoculars, and conducting bird counts. The best part is, these are the same skills that adult birdwatchers and scientists use. In fact, the bird counts can be entered into the citizen science website eBird Caribbean and used in actual scientific research! This teaches kids that their observations are important in addition to building their science skills. Their data can help scientists learn more about complicated topics like bird migration.

Educators from Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic share their bird journals from the International Training workshop in Nassau, Bahamas.
Educators from Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic share their bird journals from the International Training workshop in Nassau, Bahamas. Left to right: Israel Guzmán (Sociedad Ornitológica Puertorriqueña Inc., Puerto Rico), Ianela Garcia Lau (University of Havana, Cuba), Johanna Rodriguez Paulino (Grupo Acción Ecologica, Dominican Republic).

One benefit of the program is the opportunity to get kids out into nature where they can be active, and observe and connect with the animals in their environment. The overall goal is to develop a strong conservation ethic in young people and promote commitment to environmental stewardship by increasing their knowledge and interest in birds, nature and science. Because of the diverse cultural backgrounds in the Caribbean, it is important that BirdSleuth is available in the languages spoken across the region.

Twenty-seven educators from around the region attended an intensive 3-day International Training Workshop for BirdSleuth in the fall of 2014 in Nassau, Bahamas. Since then they have been using the English and Spanish versions of the curriculum to train local teachers how to use the program. They have also been using BirdSleuth activities in their annual bird festival events, after-school programs and summer camps with great success.

Jermy Shroeter, a ranger at the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, helps a BirdSleuth Caribbean camp participant in Jamaica identify a bird in the Bird Detective game (Lesson 8)
Jermy Shroeter, a ranger at the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, helps a BirdSleuth Caribbean camp participant in Jamaica identify a bird in the Bird Detective game (Lesson 8)

“We can’t wait to use the curriculum here in Guadeloupe” said Anthony Levesque. “It’s so important to teach our young people about science, nature and conservation – birds can definitely act as that spark to ignite an interest in the natural world. Students also learn that they can contribute to local conservation efforts and science through their actions.”

Read more about our BirdSleuth Caribbean program here. The curriculum and supporting materials are available for free download in English, Spanish and French at this link. A limited number of printed copies will also be available. Contact Lisa Sorenson at Lisa.Sorenson@BirdsCaribbean.org for more information.

We are grateful to Parc National de la Guadeloupe for funding the translation of the curriculum to French. Many thanks to Nathalie Hecker for her excellent translation of the BirdSleuth Caribbean curriculum and materials.