Earth Day with the birds

Earth Day is tomorrow – Thursday, April 22. I am planning to spend part of it (virtually) with birds. No doubt, the birds in our garden may make an appearance or voice their thoughts on the state of our Planet. The Jamaican Woodpecker, for example, with his overly loud, imperious screech (I feel I want to tell him to turn the volume down). The White-chinned Thrush is very much engaged with his rather melodious “hooray, it’s the breeding season” song these days, with little pauses in between each phrase. The White-winged Doves and the White-crowned Pigeon will give us a selection of throaty hoots and coos and, in the case of the latter, a wonderful sound like a growl.

One of our Jamaican Woodpeckers on his favorite perch – a tilting wooden light pole that is scheduled to be replaced! The Jamaican Woodpecker is an endemic bird – that is, he doesn’t live anywhere else but this little island. (My photo)

Later on Earth Day evening, as darkness deepens, I will expect the Northern Potoo (a new and welcome visitor to our yard) to have something to say, although perhaps he will just clear his throat in that rough way that alarms our dogs. And the Barn Owl may pass over even later (his usual time is around midnight) to end Earth Day with a steady creaking of wings. The Antillean Nighthawk will dart around in the dim light, crying “gimme me bit”!

The virtual part will be two bird webinars that I am greatly looking forward to. They are free and open to the public. Why don’t you join us, if you have an hour or two to spare? You will be in good company.

Join BirdLife Jamaica via Zoom! Listen and learn from the brilliant Ann Sutton and Brandon Hay.

BirdLife Jamaica’s webinar at 7:00 p.m. Jamaica time (we are an hour behind Eastern Daylight Time) will turn the spotlight on an area that I am particularly fond of. It is sometimes muddy, sometimes watery, always beautiful and fascinating: the Portland Bight Protected Area. It is also a favorite haunt of Jamaican birders. The title of the webinar is a birding pun (the Tern being a seabird). Dr. Ann Sutton is a brilliant ornithologist and Brandon Hay is Science Officer at the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (C-CAM) – with whom we had an unforgettable boat trip to Goat Islands and beyond a couple of years ago.

Secondly, BirdsCaribbean is kicking off the Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival (CEBF) – which runs every year from Earth Day to May 22 (International Day for Biodiversity) – with a webinar on the beautiful and critically endangered Ridgway’s Hawk. Thereafter there will be weekly webinars during the CEBF, on Thursdays at 4:00 p.m. EDT (which is 3:00 p.m. Jamaica time).

The Ridgway’s Hawk Conservation Project in the Dominican Republic, funded by The Peregrine Fund and supported by BirdsCaribbean’s Betty Petersen Conservation Fund, has faced challenges (including, of course, COVID-19). However, it is a perfect example of community resilience and co-operation. Congratulations to the Peregrine Fund for their perseverance, to community members who care, and to these magnificent raptors – the Gavilan de Hispaniola – for surviving! Learn more at this intriguing one-hour session.

So, that’s a couple of things to chirp, whistle and sing about tomorrow.

Happy Earth Day when it comes!

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