International Migratory Bird Festival Focuses on Caribbean Habitat Restoration


Just a couple of months ago, over 220 delegates from 33 countries descended on Kingston, Jamaica for the BirdsCaribbean 20th International Meeting at the Knutsford Court Hotel. It was an exciting five days, with one day in the middle for field trips. Since then, time has flown past and International Migratory Bird Day is here. Since early September (the arrival of the beautiful American Redstart, our “Butterfly Bird”) the birds have been arriving on our shores – a miracle of nature that never ceases to amaze and fascinate me. Here is BirdsCaribbean’s press release, focusing on the many activities that will take place not only in the Caribbean region, but across the hemisphere, in celebration of our migrating birds.

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October 1, 2015—In a region that seems blessed with eternal summer, one of the most noticeable signs of autumn is the arrival of countless migratory birds. Leaving their summer breeding grounds in North America, they transform Caribbean wetlands and forests with their colors and songs. Events celebrating these birds and their miraculous migrations are also arriving this month with International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD).

IMBD is coordinated across the Western Hemisphere by Environment for the Americas (EFTA), and events are held in over 700 locations from Canada to Argentina. BirdsCaribbean, the largest organization devoted to wildlife conservation in the Caribbean, will coordinate activities throughout the region beginning in October, a time when migratory activity is at its peak in the Caribbean. BirdsCaribbean has been the regional coordinator for the past eight years.

The theme of IMBD this year is “Restore Habitat, Restore Birds.” This theme is particularly relevant in the Caribbean, where natural habitats share limited island real estate with dense human populations and intensive development. The migratory pathways and overwintering grounds of the Caribbean are an indispensable part of the life cycle of about 350 bird species, from egrets and ducks to hawks and songbirds.

“We use birds as an inspiration to restore forests and wetlands,” explains BirdsCaribbean President Leo Douglas. “The underlying truth is that supporting habitat restoration is always a wise focus. Healthy local habitats are essential for human health, our agricultural base and the natural beauty that drives tourism.” Douglas noted further that the mangroves that protect us from storm surges and form critical fish nurseries are simultaneously important habitat for birds. Similarly, island forests sheltering a rich diversity of bird life are critical for preventing erosion and devastating land-slippages and mud slides.

Public activities to mark IMBD will include a diverse array of events such as bird-watching excursions, lectures, seminars, school-based art competitions, church services, and media campaigns. Tree plantings, seedling giveaways and other hands-on habitat restoration activities are planned on many islands.

As part of this year’s festivities, BirdsCaribbean has produced a free ebook about native trees: Heritage Plants. This illustrated book explains the importance of native trees to birds and other animals, includes a guide featuring dozens of native trees of particular value, and serves as a resource to foster habitat restoration within local communities.

“Planting a native tree is a fantastic way to beautify your backyard or neighborhood,” notes BirdsCaribbean’s Executive Director Lisa Sorenson. “Along with birds, native trees are the most iconic features of the Caribbean landscape, and their roots are deeply intertwined with both the wildlife and the cultures of the region.”

The ebook Heritage Plants is available for download on the Resources page of birdscaribbean.org. For additional IMBD resources, visit www.migratorybirdday.org.

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For more information, and to arrange an interview, please contact:

Ingrid Flores, Regional Coordinator of IMBD Caribbean, BirdsCaribbean

Email: imbdcoordinator.pr@gmail.com

OR: Scott Johnson, Chairperson, Media Working Group, BirdsCaribbean.

Email: sjohnson@bnt.bs

International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) is the largest-known bird conservation and education event of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. IMBD was initiated in 1993 by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. It is currently coordinated by Environment for the Americas, Boulder, Colorado, under the direction of Susan Bonfield, Executive Director. For more details, see: http://www.migratorybirdday.org.

BirdsCaribbean is a vibrant international network of members and partners committed to conserving Caribbean birds and their habitats. We raise awareness, promote sound science, and empower local partners to build a region where people appreciate, conserve and benefit from thriving bird populations and ecosystems. We are a non-profit (501 (c) 3) membership organization. More than 100,000 people participate in our programs each year, making BirdsCaribbean the most broad-based conservation organization in the region. You can learn more about us, our work, and how to join at: http://www.birdscaribbean.org.

Our Butterfly Bird, the female American Redstart.
Our Butterfly Bird, the female American Redstart. We have two or three (possibly juveniles?) who have been in our yard for a few weeks now. Quite possibly my very favorite migratory bird!


 


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