Battered Caribbean Islands Come Together to Welcome Birds Back

It has been a struggle for the islands that suffered from Hurricanes Irma and Maria last  year to get back on their feet.  The people, their homes, their villages and their societies were disrupted and in many cases damaged or destroyed. The same of course goes for the environment. Important habitats for birds like the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico were ravaged (you can see the damage done in the background to one of these photos from that island). Our Caribbean birds’ lives were disrupted, too. However, BirdsCaribbean did not hesitate, but played its part to help birds – and those who care for, rescue and study them – by distributing food and feeders, supporting scientists, conservationists and non-governmental organisations in conducting surveys, and much more. You can still help with a donation, large or small, on the Razoo crowdfunding website.

Ingrid Flores, IMBD Coordinator in Puerto Rico, at the Shorebird Festival.

However, despite everything the season of migration has come round again, and it was time to welcome the birds back through BirdsCaribbean’s celebration of International Migratory Bird Day. Here is a short press release that you can find on their website here, along with more photographs of island activities during the period.

It’s all about overcoming! We still have our birds!


Battered Caribbean Islands Come Together to Welcome Birds Back

February 21, 2018—The fall of 2017 was hard for the Caribbean. Hurricanes beat on our islands, destroying homes, toppling trees and darkening cities. The storms hurt both people and nature, damaging forests, wetlands, and the animals that live in them.

Despite these tests, bird fans across the region rallied to learn about migratory birds. At events all over the region, people young and old took time out from rebuilding to connect with nature. It brought people together with each other and with local birds.

These events were part of International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD). IMBD takes place all over the Americas, and is coordinated by Environment for the Americas. Caribbean events are organized by BirdsCaribbean, and take many forms.

Dr. Adrianne Tossas (right) and her students at the University of Puerto Rico assessed the impact of Hurricane María on the numbers and diversity of birds in mangrove and coastal native forests as part of their IMBD celebration. (photo courtesy of Adrianne Tossas).

Dr. Adrianne Tossas shared a study that will find out if Hurricane María changed the numbers and diversity of birds with students at the University of Puerto Rico. Ingrid Flores, the Puerto Rico IMBD Coordinator, taught the value of wild spaces to migratory birds with school children at Instituto Las Américas of Caguas, Puerto Rico.

In Haiti, Anderson Jean from Société Écologique d’ Haiti took 150 guests to Les Cayes to learn bird identification. In Cuba, a team led by Alieny Gonzalez visited schools to explain why stopover sites are key to migratory birds. Youth were amazed to learn that some birds can use wind gusts in their favor to “ride out” a tropical storm and survive. Grupo Jaragua in the Dominican Republic reached more than 1,000 people with bird walks and talks.

On islands hit by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, dozens of bird feeders and bags of bird seed were given out to help local birds. These were donated by BirdsCaribbean. “Bird food was in short supply following the hurricanes,” commented IMBD Coordinator in Puerto Rico, Ingrid Flores. “People and schools were happy to receive these items so that they could help birds in their back yards survive through a rough patch.”

“Through IMBD, we work to engage people of all ages to make their homes and towns safe places for birds,” says Susan Bonfield, Executive Director of Environment for the Americas. For many islands in the Caribbean, creating safe spaces for birds can also be part of our recovery.

Coordinators in Cuba (Alieny Gonazalez and Ianela Garcia) talk about the importance of stopover sites for migratory birds with a youth club in Cuba. (photo courtesy of Alieny Gonzalez)


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

Susan Bonfield, Executive Director, Environment for the Americas, Boulder, CO, USA. Email:; Tel: 970-393-1183

Ingrid Flores, International Migratory Bird Day Coordinator in Puerto Rico, Environment for the Americas and BirdsCaribbean, Email:; Tel: (787) 202-2164

Lisa Sorenson, Executive Director, BirdsCaribbean. Email:; Tel: 508-655-1940

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. Each year IMBD explores a different aspect of migratory birds. In 2017, participants at more than 700 locations from Argentina to Canada learned how protecting and restoring stopover sites can benefit migratory birds, the symbolic harbingers of the seasons. Because habitat loss is considered the largest threat to these birds, IMBD events included restoration activities like clean-ups and planting native species, as well as educational presentations, bird walks, and creative art projects. For more details, see:

Youth birding in Carriacou, Grenada.

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 programmes 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:

Migratory shorebirds like Ruddy Turnstones and Sanderlings rely on Caribbean beaches and wetlands for a safe haven during migration and overwintering. (Photo: Max Schwenne)

4 thoughts on “Battered Caribbean Islands Come Together to Welcome Birds Back

  1. I am so very behind, and I keep about 20 pages on the browser until I am online and can send a comment; you’ve written so many amazing posts, that I could have all tabs opened on your different posts!

    This is great news re: the birds and how many people are interested, especially when children are involved, as they are the world’s future.. * (and then I send the comment, and it bounces back due to horrid internet! i’m at a little hotel tonight, but progress is slow!)

    Your summaries (of what’s happening) continue to amaze me!


    1. Thank you so much for your encouragement! Sorry to hear about the Internet, I hate when it’s running slow. No patience! (I am happy to hear my summaries amaze you…another one coming up shortly!!) Thanks again for your lovely words.


  2. Lovely to see people working together, not just to rebuild communities, but also the natural environment. Particularly great to see young people interested in, and gaining awareness, of the birds and animals that share this planet with us! Protect the environment, and it will be kinder to us in turn. Education is key, programs such as these bode well for the future.


    1. Thanks! Yes, BirdsCaribbean is very focused on education – not just sitting in a classroom, but hands-on. Even in the Caribbean, many children don’t get the opportunity to just enjoy and appreciate nature..

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s