17 Mar 2016

Audubon becomes bilingual to serve Spanish-speakers

Eight in ten North American bird species also occur in Spanish-speaking Latin America
By James Lowen

The National Audubon Society (BirdLife in the US), has expanded its online offerings to serve Spanish-speaking audiences in the U.S. and Latin America. Audubon's goal is to broaden awareness of birds and bird conservation.

For the first time in the organisation's 111-year history, US Hispanics and Latin American nationals have online access to a Spanish version of Audubon's seminal field guide to North American birds, selected news stories and information about conservation issues. "Bringing Audubon’s content to Spanish-speaking communities", says David Yarnold (Audubon President and CEO), "will enable more people to care for the amazing wildlife we share”.

Audubon has both domestic and international aspirations. More than 35 million U.S. Hispanics speak Spanish at home. Given that a recent poll found that Hispanic voters feel protecting U.S. wildlife to be almost as important as comprehensive immigration reform (79% vs 80%), Audubon is targeting a large and potentially supportive domestic audience.

Speaking to the Nieman Journalism Lab, Audubon chief marketing officer Jose Carbonell explained that Audubon "has been looking at the Latino audience for a long time; it is really passionate about the environment and wildlife." Carbonell said that translating website content into Spanish could encourage many Hispanics to "share our passion and mission". Publishing online a Spanish version of Audubon's Guide to North American birds was Audubon's reponse to realising that "if you're a Spanish speaker and wanted to look up birds in Spanish, there was nowhere online to search for that information".

Mindful that eight in ten North American bird species also occur in Spanish-speaking Latin America, engaging communities in those countries helps the 380 migrant species that spend half their life south of the United States. "Birds don't know borders", says David Yarnold, "and neither do the threats they face".