From Jamaica Meeting 2015

Winners of BirdsCaribbean Photo Contest 2015

Fun with Hummingbirds at Rocklands by Wendy Lee.
Fun with Hummingbirds at Rocklands by Wendy Lee.
BirdsCaribbean’s first ever photography competition, “hatched” at our 20th International Meeting in Jamaica, has proven to be a great success. The three judges had considerable enjoyment looking through 126 photos submitted on BirdsCaribbean’s Flickr group (look for tag “BCPhotoContest2015”) by many fine photographers.

This year’s contest featured three distinct categories as well as an overall Grand Prize Winner. The Endemics category showcased the bird species found only on Jamaica. Fun with Birds and People highlighted both human-bird interaction and the International Meeting itself. Birds and Nature explored birds as well as their habitats and the other animals and plants that make up island ecosystems.

There was much to consider in the birds photographed including composition, focus, colour and overall interest. The judges were unanimous in their decisions for the following prize winners.

Grand Prize Winner Red-billed Streamertail by Rafy Rodriguez.
Grand Prize Winner Red-billed Streamertail by Rafy Rodriguez.

Grand Prize Winner

Red-billed Streamertail – Rafy Rodriguez

Endemics

First PrizeJamaican Mango in flight – Rafy Rodriguez
Second PrizeBlack-billed Streamertail – Stephen Shunk
Third PrizeYellow-faced Grassquit – Antoine Chabrolle

Fun with Birds and People

First PrizeFun with Hummingbirds at Rocklands – Wendy Lee
Second PrizeSpice Girl Power – John Webster
Third PrizeLearning the Tools – Doris Gross

Birds and Nature

First PrizeLoggerhead Kingbird attacking Northern Mockingbird – John Webster
Second PrizeCaribbean Dove – Frantz Delcroix
Third PrizeButterfly – Frantz Delcroix

Loggerhead Kingbird attacking Northern Mockingbird by John Webster.
Loggerhead Kingbird attacking Northern Mockingbird by John Webster.
Congratulations to all the winners! The grand prize winner will receive a pair of Atlas Optics Intrepid ED 7×36 Binoculars and Woofit Wireless Bluetooth Speaker. First prize winners winners will receive the Bluetooth Speaker, second place will get a signed copy of Wildlife of the Caribbean and third place will receive a signed copy of Birds, Beasts & Bureaucrats. Thanks to our sponsors Eagle Optics and Princeton University Press for donating these fabulous prizes.

Thanks also to our three wonderful judges, Andrew Dobson, Claude Fletcher and Stokely Saddler, for their time, expertise, and careful consideration of all the photos.

Finally, thanks to all the photographers who participated in the contest! Many excellent shots were submitted, making the decision on the winning photos a real challenge for the judges. To see the entries in each category, follow these links: Endemics, Fun with Birds and People, and Birds and Nature.

Science, Conservation and Irie Vibes at 20th International Meeting in Kingston

BirdsCaribbean Executive Director Dr. Lisa Sorenson, Roshaun "Bay-C" Clarke, and Dr. Ann Sutton. (Photo by Leno Davis)
BirdsCaribbean Executive Director Dr. Lisa Sorenson, Roshaun “Bay-C” Clarke, and Dr. Ann Sutton. (Photo by Leno Davis)
Every two years, bird educators, scientists and conservationists from throughout the Caribbean and beyond gather for BirdsCaribbean’s International Meeting. At this year’s meeting in Kingston, Jamaica, over 220 international and local delegates gathered to share the latest in Caribbean bird science, conservation and education. Birds—Connecting Communities and Conservation was the theme for the meeting, the largest conservation conference held in the entire Caribbean in recent years.

The conference opened with “Jamaica Day — A Celebration of Jamaica’s Unique and Wonderful Birds” which included a dozen presentations about Jamaica’s birds, from the latest research in tracking Jamaican seabird populations to the role of birds in pest control on Blue Mountain coffee farms. The extended look at Jamaica’s birds also included reports on the arrival of the Caribbean Birding Trail program to Jamaica and Jamaica’s historical contribution to ornithology.

The meeting continued with a series of outstanding presentations from famous conservationists, who spoke on a wide range of topics including the importance of involving the community in bird conservation, why it is important to conserve birds, how photography can be used to influence hearts and minds and the importance of habitat restoration for birds and people. Workshop topics focused on capacity building and included fundraising, advocacy and the use of social media.

Other highlights of the meeting included the announcement of the rediscovery of the Black-capped Petrel on the island of Dominica and the launch of a new book: The Endemic Birds of Cuba by Nils Navarro. The week before the conference, 30 children enjoyed a summer camp all about birds at the Hope Zoo, and two dozen Jamaicans were trained as birding guides during the Caribbean Birding Trail’s Jamaica launch.

BirdsCaribbean President Leo Douglas welcomes international delegates from 33 nations. (Photo by Mark Yokoyama)
BirdsCaribbean President Leo Douglas welcomes international delegates from 33 nations. (Photo by Mark Yokoyama)
“This year was the perfect time to bring the BirdsCaribbean meeting back to Jamaica,” noted BirdsCaribbean President Leo Douglas. “The Blue and John Crow mountains were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site just weeks before the meeting, while the Goat Islands and Portland Bight Protected Area are currently facing the threat of development. At this moment Jamaica is in the spotlight, representing both the irreplaceable value of Caribbean natural heritage and its vulnerability.”

In addition to over 120 presentations, workshops and panel discussions, the delegates enjoyed a variety of field trips to explore Jamaica’s natural areas first-hand. Conference trips visited Hope Gardens, Goat Islands, Cockpit Country, western Portland Bight, Portland, and the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, amongst other destinations. Many meeting participants were particularly eager to catch a glimpse of some of the 29 bird species endemic to Jamaica that can be seen nowhere else in the world and all expressed their amazement at the richness of Jamaica’s biodiversity and landscape and the warm welcome they received.

Local support was crucial to the success of the meeting, with sponsorships and media support coming from the National Environment and Planning Agency, Knutsford Court Hotel, Sandals Foundation, Carib Cement, Island Car Rental, Jamaica National Building Society, Hope Gardens, Hope Zoo, Jamaica Conservation Development Trust, The Gleaner, BirdLife Jamaica, AV Concepts and LIME. International sponsors included the US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service International Programs, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Dutch Conservation Nature Alliance, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, Rare Species Conservatory Foundation, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and Anguilla Nature Explorers/Birds in Paradise Tour. The meeting concluded with a banquet and awards ceremony featuring renowned dancehall artist and environmentalist Roshaun “Bay-C” Clarke of the band T.O.K., ending the conference on a musical high note.

Rediscovery of Black-capped Petrels on Dominica

Adam Brown goes face-to-face with the Diablotin.
Adam Brown goes face-to-face with the Diablotin.
A team of scientists from EPIC and Dominica’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries have recorded 968 Diablotin, also known as the Black-capped Petrel, over the mountains of Dominica, a Lesser Antilles island for which the last confirmed date of nesting of that species is 1862. This rare seabird was once abundant on Dominica, but thought to be extirpated in the late 1800s due to overhunting and the introduction of mammalian species. Observations made with radar and supplemented by detection of vocalizations showed large numbers of petrels flying between the sea and potential nest areas in the island’s highest peaks. Details of the expedition are being released at the 20th International Meeting of BirdsCaribbean, taking place now in Kingston, Jamaica.

Adam Brown, Co-Founder and Lead Scientist at EPIC states, “Finding this colony of petrels on Dominica is a real game-changer for Black-capped Petrel conservation. For years we thought the only remaining colonies of petrels were on Hispaniola, where nesting habitat is diminishing at an alarming rate and pressures of human activity are significant. Dominica is an island-nation where nature conservation is a high priority and forests needed by petrels are well protected, so we now have a huge new opportunity to undertake conservation efforts to preserve this imperiled species.”

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The Gathering Flock

The 20th International Meeting of BirdsCaribbean begins on Saturday.
The 20th International Meeting of BirdsCaribbean begins on Saturday.
Over 40 international delegates have already arrived in Kingston, Jamaica for the 20th International Meeting of BirdsCaribbean, which officially kicks off on Saturday. Coverage of the meeting has appeared in local and regional media including the Observer, Repeating Islands and Ornithomedia (Français). Many of the early arrivals will be spending tomorrow at an all-day workshop learning how to prepare bird study skins. Study skins can be used in educational activities, like teaching the different parts of a bird, and they also form the foundation of museum collections around the world used for scientific research.

The meeting includes five days of workshops, presentations and field trips. Approximately 200 delegates from the Caribbean and beyond are attending the meeting. For more information about the meeting, visit the meeting website. Keep an eye on this blog for updates throughout the meeting and watch #Caribbeanbirds, #BirdsCarib2015, and #Caribbeannature on your favorite social media platform.

Fundraising Workshop

Mazarine Treyz is the author of The Wild Woman’s Guide to Fundraising.
Mazarine Treyz is the author of The Wild Woman’s Guide to Fundraising.
All of us work very hard to raise funds for our conservation programs—there are never enough funds for urgent projects, much less support to pay the staff that are essential to carry out the work. Many organizations are hanging on by a thread for their very survival. To help YOU to be a stronger and more effective organization, we are excited to announce that we have secured the help of Mazarine Treyz of Wild Woman Fundraising to do a training workshop on fundraising for us.

Mazarine Treyz is the author of The Wild Woman’s Guide to Fundraising, and founder of WildWomanFundraising.com, a popular fundraising resource with 50,000 monthly readers. She also wrote The Wild Woman’s Guide to Social Media, given a 5 star rating by nonprofit About.com. Her latest book, Get the Job! Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide, was also given a 5 star review by Nonprofit.About.com. Ms. Treyz has co-founded a nonprofit and worked in fundraising roles for 10 years. She’s raised millions for small, national and international charities via grants, events, sponsorships, crowdfunding, appeals. She’s trained over 10,000 people from 2011-2015 and helped nonprofits raise millions more.

Event Photography Workshop

Engaging photography can make it easier to promote your events.
Engaging photography can make it easier to promote your events.

If you ever wished you had better photos to commemorate and promote your conservation and outreach work, you’ll want to attend the event photography workshop at this year’s BirdsCaribbean meeting in Jamaica. It will be a practical, hands-on workshop to help any organization look their best and increase their exposure in traditional and social media through better event photography.

It may be hard to define great event photography, but we know it when we see it: bright, colorful images of busy events with people of all ages and backgrounds engaged and having fun. These are the images that help get your press release featured prominently in the local newspaper and generate positive buzz on social media. They are the hook that grabs visitors when they see your website and the emotional connection that drives sponsorships and donations.

In this workshop, learn how to consistently get great photos at events—from planning to shooting to editing to sharing—whether you are working with a photographer or developing your photo chops in house. The workshop will take you step by step through the process, focused on practical advice that can be implemented by any organization and hands-on practice during the workshop. You can put your new skills immediately to good use by photographing events at the meeting and entering your photos in the BirdsCaribbean Photography Competition.

Photo Contest at the Jamaica Meeting

A yellow warbler on a small island in the Portland Bight Protected Area, Jamaica. (Photo: Robin Moore)
A yellow warbler on a small island in the Portland Bight Protected Area, Jamaica. (Photo: Robin Moore)
Wonderful prizes await participants in the 2015 Digital Photo Contest at BirdsCaribbean’s 20th International Meeting, to take place at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica from July 25 – 29 (Haven’t you registered yet? Well, now is the time!) The contest is open to all photographers (aged 18 years and over), except board members of BirdsCaribbean, the judges of the contest and their immediate families. The contest is open to all participants of the conference regardless of residence or citizenship, so long as the laws of their jurisdiction allow participation.

Contestants will need to take the photographs (and date them!) between the dates of July 18 and August 5, 2015 and during the conference. A range of field trips and early morning bird-watching sessions will provide ample opportunity to see and photograph the diversity of Jamaican birds. Participants should sign up now for mid-conference field trips (on July 27) to the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park (where almost all Jamaica’s endemic bird species live); to the Ramsar Site and Protected Areas of the Port Royal Wetlands and Cays; or to the Portland Bight Protected Area, including Goat Islands and neighboring cays (designated an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International). There will also be pre- and post-conference trips on offer, showcasing Jamaica’s incredible variety of landscapes, flora and fauna as well as giving a taste of the island’s vibrant culture.

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Bird Study Skin Preparation Workshop

Study skins attracted a lot of attention at an outreach event held in a shopping center by the Bahamas National Trust.
Study skins attracted a lot of attention at an outreach event held in a shopping center by the Bahamas National Trust.
Each BirdsCaribbean meeting features hands-on workshops created to help members develop practical skills that they can put to use in their work. This year a special, one-day workshop teaching participants how to prepare study skins will be held the day before the meeting begins.

The workshop will provide hands-on training in the preparation, documentation and long-term storage of bird study skins. Participants will actively prepare their own specimen from start to finish. Present guidelines for maintaining and managing a skin collection, how to prepare specimen labels and how best to store study skins to ensure their long-term scientific and educational value (many museums house specimens over 200 years old that are nearly as pristine as when they were prepared). 

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20th International Meeting of BirdsCaribbean

Jamaican Tody by Wendy Lee
Jamaican Tody by Wendy Lee
Join us for BirdsCaribbean’s 20th International Meeting in Jamaica, home of reggae, amazing birds and biodiversity, from Saturday, July 25th to Wednesday, July 29th (inclusive). The purpose of the meeting is to bring together Caribbean and international wildlife professionals, ornithologists, educators, decision makers, tourism interests, community leaders, students and others to share information and learn about the latest avian research and initiatives to conserve Caribbean birds and their habitats. The meeting will feature exciting keynote speakers, symposia and paper sessions as well as training workshops, round-table discussions, and working group meetings that promote applied conservation and collaboration to solve our shared environmental challenges.

The meeting will be held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston, Jamaica. We have arranged for discounted rooms at the conference hotel; restaurants, shopping and more are located within walking distance. Members of the Local Organizing Committee include the Forestry Department, Hope Gardens, Jamaica Conservation Development Trust, Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation, University of the West Indies, Windsor Research Centre and others.

The theme of the meeting is “Birds—Connecting Communities and Conservation.” In addition to the 5 days of the main conference, there will be wonderful pre- and post conference workshops and field trips (a chance to see all 29 of Jamaica’s endemic birds!), so be sure to save dates on your calendar for several days before and after the conference to participate in some of these events.

Be sure to mark your calendars and plan to attend! Jamaica is an incredibly beautiful country with a wealth of birds, biodiversity and stunning landscapes. You will definitely want to spend time exploring the country and should plan some extra time for this. Plan a holiday with your family or friends before or after the meeting!


20th International Meeting of BirdsCaribbean
New Kingston, Jamaica
25-29 July 2015
Birds—Connecting Communities and Conservation

Read more about the meeting agenda, programs, field trips, and how to register at the meeting web site.

Find the meeting report and other information from BirdsCaribbean’s previous meeting on the Grenada 2013 web site.