Bird-a-thon bears Golden-cheeked fruit
Biologists working for SalvaNATURA (BirdLife in El Salvador) have netted and ringed a young male Golden-cheeked Warbler Dendroica chrysoparia at the bird monitoring station at Montecristo National Park, northwestern El Salvador.
SalvaNATURA has been monitoring birds at Montecristo each month for nearly four years, funded by money raised by the Bird-a-thon, a bird race organised to coincide with the World Bird Festival during October.
"We had observed the species in the trees near the nets each winter", said Roselvy Juárez, the biologist who supervised the monitoring station. "We had been hoping to catch this species every year, but it took us 47 visits, more than 18,000 net hours, and we captured more than 1,700 birds of other species before this one flew into a net."
Juárez and her team took photographs and measurements before releasing the bird. They also marked the bird with a US Fish and Wildlife Service aluminum leg band.
"We have never had such an opportunity before, to learn about the species's movements on the wintering grounds", said SalvaNATURA's science director, Dr Oliver Komar.
"Biodiversity monitoring is a national priority which should be carried out in all of the country's protected areas" —Néstor Herrera, El Salvador's Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources
Golden-cheeked Warbler is one of three globally threatened bird species found in El Salvador. It breeds locally in fragmented and fast-vanishing oak-juniper forest in Central Texas, USA, where conservation action including habitat protection and restoration may have begun to ameliorate its decline. It winters in the pine-oak forests of Central America. The Continental Alliance for the Conservation of Mesoamerican Pine-oak Forests and their Birds, an alliance of NGOs and government agencies including SalvaNatura and ProNatura (BirdLife in Mexico), chose Golden-cheeked Warbler as their flagship species.
Pine-oak forest is one of the most threatened natural habitats in Central America. SalvaNATURA's analysis of population trends in pine-oak forest has shown that 17% of resident bird species and 18% of migratory bird species have declined significantly over the last four years. Juárez and Komar will present those results to Central American scientists during the XII Congress of the Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation, in San Salvador during 10-14 November 2008 (www.smbcelsalvador2008.com).
Montecristo National Park is managed by El Salvador's Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. "We are delighted to see the fruits of the permanent monitoring programme", said , the Ministry's director for biodiversity. "Biodiversity monitoring is a national priority which should be carried out in all of the country's protected areas, although at present only a few have benefited from such programmes."
The 2008 SalvaNATURA Bird-A-Thon will take place on October 25-26. Find out more about the Bird-a-thon, and how you can take part, and support SalvaNATURA's monitoring programmes, on http://birdathones.blogspot.com/2008/06/salvanatura-2008-bird-thon.html