World Bird Festival is breaking records in the Americas
In the Americas the World Bird Festival, or Festival Mundial de las Aves, as it is known there, is breaking records. Photo exhibitions, talks, workshops for children, drawing contests and birdwatching trips to Important Bird Areas have been some of the activities that more than 200 organisations in 23 countries held very successfully.
Save Brasil (BirdLife in Brazil) and IESB (Instituto de Estudo Socioambientais do Sul da Bahia) used the World Bird Festival as an opportunity to change attitudes in Serra das Lontras, a region where wild birds are routinely caught to keep at home or sell. The wild bird trade has reduced the population of some threatened birds in the region like the Bare-throated Bellbird (Procnias nudicollis) a Vulnerable species at global level. Activities such as drawing contests and theatre were used to explore the theme of birds in captivity. “Children learned that having birds in cages is not desirable and that they are healthier, happier and more beautiful in their natural habitats,” said Nina Duarte, Save Brasil’s Festival coordinator.
The Sociedad Ornitologica de la Hispaniola, one of the participating organizations in Dominican Republic, carried out exciting World Bird Festival events with communities at Los Haitises National Park IBA and Los Dajaos IBA. More than 400 adults and children enjoyed activities including birdwatching, presentations on the importance of migratory birds, and painting contests for children. They also launched a poster to celebrate the World Bird Festival and the inspiration of birds
A birdwatching trip to the Ecuador’s Rio Caoni IBA recorded 98 species, including Pacific Black-tailed Conure Pyrrhura melanura pacifica. This was just one of a number of activities coordinated by Aves & Conservacion (BirdLife in Ecuador), which attracted more than 3,000 people during the course of the festival. The main attraction was a three-day event in the Itchimbia Park in Quito, where hundreds of people met to celebrate birds by participating in more than 15 activities, including an exhibition of paintings of birds of Quito, games related to birds, exhibitions, talks and workshops for children.
“Children learned that having birds in cages is not desirable and that they are healthier, happier and more beautiful in their natural habitats,” —Nina Duarte, Save Brasil’s Festival coordinator
Ecotourism and its benefits for the environment and the economy was one of the World Bird Festival themes in Guatemala. 83 people took part in the World Bird Count, covering more than 12 protected areas and eight private nature reserves, some of them proposed Important Bird Areas. “These areas support bird conservation and are promoting avitourism as an economically profitable and environmentally compatible activity” said Raquel Siguenza de Micheo, one of the coordinators of the festival in Guatemala. Ten governmental and non-governmental organizations, including both conservation and tourism industry groups, were involved in the Festival. They included the Biology School of San Carlos University, Fundacion Defensores de la Naturaleza, Asociacion de Reservas Naturales Privadas de Guatemala, the Guatemalan Tourism Institute (INGUAT), Centro de Estudios Conservacionistas (CECON), the Guatemalan Society of Ornithology (SGO), ALAS Guatemala, La Via Maya, OTUS and ORNIS - Shara Bird-Watch Guatemala.
Paraguay’s celebration of the World Bird Festival began in the streets of Asuncion with dances, music and paintings by young Paraguayans. 150 children and teachers visited San Rafael Reserve, Paraguay’s first IBA, and one of the most important remnants of Atlantic Forest. Earlier this year Guyra Paraguay (BirdLife in Paraguay) purchased 2,100 hectares of the San Rafael Reserve, to add to the 5,800 hectares they already own. San Rafael holds populations of 11 globally threatened bird species and 17 near-threatened species, as well as more Atlantic Forest endemic bird species than any other site in Paraguay. The old Central Train Station “Presidente Carlos Antonio Lopez” in the centre of the city echoed to the sound of a Paraguayan harp playing the famous polka Guyra Campana and Paraguayan and international dances. Children enjoyed the moment, creating masks of owls, toucans and the Gua´a hovy (Hyacinthine Macaw) Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus, a globally Endangered species.
“In Caracas, despite of the environmental damage, there are more than 200 bird species” —Marieta Hernandez, President of SCAV
The Sociedad Ornitológica Puertorriqueña (Ornithological Society of Puerto Rico), held their first advanced workshop on identification of shorebirds, in the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge, part of a proposed IBA. The workshop, given by Brian Harrington, of the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, was attended by volunteers from SOPI’s International Shorebird Survey (Red Limícola), and other organizations, as the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, that participated in shorebird monitoring in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.
The Sociedad Conservacionista Audubon de Venezuela (SCAV, BirdLife's Affiliate in Venezuela) celebrated the tenth anniversary of its Avethon in Caracas this October. 2006 was also the third year in which SCAV took part in the World Birdwatch. Results are not yet through, but with 22 regions of the country represented, including seven IBAs, SCAV hopes to beat last year's figure of 626 species (45 percent of the national list) in 20 regions. A record 110 people in seven teams took part in the Caracas Avethon. The winning team saw 88 species, and the event was fully covered on the front page of one of Venezuela's biggest-selling national newspapers, “El Universal”. “In Caracas, despite of the environmental damage, there are more than 200 bird species, meanwhile in el Ávila (mountain that separates Caracas from the Caribbean Sea) there are 450” said Marieta Hernandez, President of Audubon.