Category Archives: Birds

The Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB) changes name to “BirdsCaribbean”

News Release Date: October 23, 2013
Birds Caribbean

(Kingston, Jamaica) October 18, 2013 – Today the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB) [1], the largest single organization devoted to wildlife conservation in the Caribbean, announced the renaming of the organization to “BirdsCaribbean.” The name change reflects the proactive, multi-faceted, and inclusive nature of the organization, which continues in its role of assisting wildlife professionals, educators, and community members throughout the Caribbean in their efforts to understand and conserve birds and their habitats.

The organization also launched a new logo featuring the Bananaquit, a conspicuous and well-known bird common on most islands. “The shorter new name and lively logo reflect our interest in making our organization more accessible and well-known in wider Caribbean society,” commented Lisa Sorenson, Executive Director of BirdsCaribbean [2]. “We need to reach more people and engage them in the wonderful world of birds and our mission to conserve the Caribbean’s rich but threatened natural heritage.” said Sorenson.

In the new strategic plan, which was presented and discussed at the organization’s 19th Regional Meeting [3] on Grenada (July 27-31, 2013), over the next five years the organization will shift from volunteer-led to one directed by full-time staff (an Executive Director, Programs Director and Administrative Assistant) under the supervision of an elected board of directors.

“Our new name and structure better positions us to serve as a leader in Caribbean conservation and support our partners,” said Dr. Howard Nelson, President of BirdsCaribbean [4]. He added that, “We are very proud of our 25 years of service to the Caribbean conservation community and we are excited about what having full-time staff will mean for BirdsCaribbean.” Nelson remarked that under BirdsCaribbean’s new strategic plan the organization aims to work with a broader suite of partners, expand educational and monitoring programs, and promote best practices for the conservation of biodiversity more widely using the region’s unique birds as flagships for conservation.

Key elements of the new strategic direction include further developing BirdsCaribbean to work with and through its partners in the Caribbean and the rest of the world to promote conservation of birds and their habitats by:

§ Serving as the Caribbean’s primary forum for sharing best practices, tools, innovations, and lessons learned about the conservation of birds and their habitats.

§ Expanding and developing flagship programs, for example, the highly successful Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival that draws over 100,000 participants from 23 independent Caribbean nations each year [5] and the Caribbean Birding Trail, an economically beneficial program promoting nature-based tourism Caribbean-wide [6].

Generating core operational funds needed to sustain full-time staff, field projects and Caribbean-wide education programs.

——– ENDS ——–

For more information, and to arrange an interview, please contact: Leo Douglas, University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. Email: lrd2107@columbia.edu.

Tel: 1 876-807-4971.

Or

Scott Johnson, Bahamas National Trust, Nassau, Bahamas. Email: sjohnson@bnt.bs.

Tel: 1 242-393- 1317.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

1. BirdsCaribbean is the largest single regional organization devoted to wildlife conservation in the Caribbean. It is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization whose goals are to promote the scientific study and conservation of Caribbean birds and their habitats, and to promote greater public awareness of the bird life of the region. For more details, see: http://www.scscb.org.

2. Dr. Lisa Sorenson is Executive Director and Past President of BirdsCaribbean. She develops and oversees all projects and programs of the Society, including the Caribbean Waterbird Census monitoring program, Caribbean Birding Trail Project, Caribbean BirdSleuth, the West Indian Whistling-Duck and Wetlands Project, and others. Sorenson, an ornithologist and conservation biologist, has been working in the Caribbean for 28 years.

3. The theme of the 2013 conference, held every two years, is “Bird Conservation in a Changing Climate.” For further information on the conference program, keynote speakers and meeting report please visit: https://sites.google.com/site/scscbmeeting2013/home

4. Dr. Howard Nelson has extensive research, policy and teaching experience in wildlife ecology, forestry and biodiversity conservation. He was also the biodiversity specialist at the Environmental Policy and Planning Division of Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Planning, Housing and Environment. Currently, he is the Coordinator for a Regional Biodiversity and Sustainable Development MSc Programme, and a lecturer at the UWI. He is also a member of the Board the Guardian Life Wildlife Trust of Trinidad and Tobago.

5. The Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival is a celebration of the region’s unique bird life. Celebrated for one month, the festival calls attention to the fact that more than 25% of the Caribbean’s bird species (148 of 564) are endemic—that is, they exist nowhere else on the planet. Local conservation organizations throughout the Caribbean celebrate through an array of events, including bird and nature walks, presentations, art and photography exhibits and competitions, radio quizzes, bird calling contests, beach clean-ups, tree plantings, distribution of materials, and more.

6. The Caribbean Birding Trail is a newly launched initiative by BirdsCaribbean [2] with funding from the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund. The mission of the CBT is to create and promote nature-based, authentic experiences that engage visitors and locals with the unique birds of the Caribbean and connect them to the extraordinary places, diverse cultures and people of each island. The CBT is a metaphorical trail that, when complete, will include important birdwatching sites throughout the entire region; using birds as a focal point for engaging birders and non-birders with the local nature and culture that lies beyond the beach. For more information, visit http://www.caribbeanbirdingtrail.org.

Caribbean Birding Trail

Launches New Training Program for 24 Tour Guides on Grenada

(St. Georges, Grenada) July 8th, 2013  – Ramier. Godbird. Chicken Hawk. Until recently, that is how many of the Caribbean Birding Trail Guide Training participants would have described some of Grenada’s common birds. Now, after having successfully completed the five-day training course, participants know that these birds have common English names that are recognized internationally by the birding community: Scaly-naped Pigeon (Ramier), House Wren (Godbird) and Broad Winged Hawk (Chicken Hawk).

The Caribbean Birding Trail (CBT) Guide Training Program was held from 17-21 June on the campus of St. George’s University and was attended by 24 participants—staff from local tour operators, non-profit organizations and the Forestry and National Parks Departments. Grenada is the first country to receive this training from the CBT, a newly launched project of the regional non-profit organization, the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB) [1].

The mission of the CBT is to engage audiences (both local and international) with the unique birds of the Caribbean and to connect them to the extraordinary places, diverse cultures and people of each island. Integral to achieving this is having well-trained guides that are knowledgeable about the cultural and natural resources of their island, including birds [2]. Just as important is having guides that can effectively communicate this information to audiences, in a meaningful and enjoyable way. To that end, the training covered not only bird identification but also the core principles of environmental interpretation, utilizing curriculum developed by the National Association of Interpretation (NAI), based in the US [3].

Facilitating the training were interpretation and bird guiding professionals from Panama, Rick Morales and Beny Wilson. Assisting Rick and Beny were Lisa Sorenson, Executive Director of SCSCB, Holly Robertson, Project Manager of the CBT, and Anthony Jeremiah, Wildlife Conservation Officer with the Forestry and National Parks Department of Grenada.

The training provided time in the field, utilizing the distinct ecosystems of Grenada to demonstrate the relationship between birds and habitat. The excellent viewing platform at the Woburn-Clark’s Court Bay mangrove wetland provided an ideal location to learn to identify waterbirds and explain how they are uniquely adapted to find food in this wet and muddy environment. The Grand Etang Forest Reserve, an entirely different habitat, provided an opportunity to see Grenada’s special forest birds, and to demonstrate how guiding a group in the forest is much different than guiding them elsewhere. Other sites visited during the week were the coastal site of La Sagesse and dry thorn scrub habitat of Mt. Hartman, home of Grenada’s national bird, the critically endangered Grenada Dove.

The week culminated in a day of presentations, with the participants making use of their new knowledge to give a 10-minute talk tailored for a specific audience. The most outstanding presentations were ones that had a cohesive and clear message that was evident throughout the presentation. The best presentations also had elements of humor and whimsy, that captivated the group’s attention from start to finish and had everyone wanting to know more. Many participants were able to do this, and it was an extremely entertaining day!

The feedback on the training has been very positive from participants. One participant, Michael Bowen of Caribbean Horizons Tours, had this to say, “Before this workshop birds and the environment meant nothing to me…but all this has changed in the last five days. I am now ready to start doing something about what I learned.”

Anne Campbell, owner of Caribbean Horizons Tours, remarked, “This workshop was fantastic. It’s given us the tools to revamp the tours that we have, put more emphasis on interpretation, and of course add the bird tours which we think are a great means to help raise environmental awareness for our guests as well as our local visitors. So we are going to be targeting two markets and hope to be able to help and do something positive for Grenada, the environment, and still have fun doing it. Thanks a lot.”

“Ultimately, it is going to take practice and commitment on the part of the guides to keep honing their skills in bird identification, bird guiding and being an effective interpreter,” said CBT Project Manager, Holly Robertson. “With the training and the materials provided in the five days of the workshop, we are confident that the participants have what they need to get started and to begin incorporating birds into the tours that they give on the island. We look forward to continuing to work with them.”

The training was made possible by major funding support from the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund and from local sponsors and partners, including the Grenada Forestry and National Parks Department, St. George’s University, McIntyre Brothers, Ltd, Blue Horizons Garden Resort, Caribbean Horizons, Grenada Fund for Conservation, the Grenada Dove Conservation Programme, and Optics for the Tropics.

The Caribbean Birding Trail Interpretive Guide Training Program will be made available in additional countries as the project continues to develop. The Caribbean Birding Trail and other important bird conservation issues will be the topic of conversation at the 19th Regional Meeting of the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds from 27-31 July inclusive on the campus of St. George’s University in southwest Grenada. The purpose of the meeting is to bring together Caribbean and international wildlife professionals, ornithologists, educators, students and others to share their knowledge passion, and experiences, and participate in practical activities that promote applied conservation. Visit the conference website for more information: http://sites.google.com/site/scscbmeeting2013/home.

Press Release, Date: July 9th, 2013

Bird Lovers Pay Attention!

The 19th Regional Meeting of the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds will be held
27-31 July 2013
St. George’s University, Grenada
Theme: Bird Conservation in a Changing Climate

As a lead up to the birding conference which sees up to 300+ persons, Caribbean Horizons Guides will be part of the intensive bird guiding – training which will take place in June using experienced facilitators and research ornithologists as presenters. Our “graduation” will be to take the birders to the nesting sites of the Grenada Dove, Hookbilled Kite, Tattinger and other island species as well as the migratory ponds and lakes on the mid conference tours which also include Carriacou and Union Island!

Caribbean Horizons is assisting the organizers of the event with logistics and planning.

Call us if you would like to go to this meeting or register directly at the website:
https://sites.google.com/site/scscbmeeting2013/home

Grenada Birds

I was delighted with the pictures of Grenada as I was only there for 7 days, and furthermore, the weather was bad. So, I can imagine what I would have obtained had I been there longer and in better weather. I loved the island and the people and will return next time for a longer stay. I would like to photograph the flora and butterflies more next time, and the monkeys which I missed.

Grenada is certainly a complete unknown for wildlife and photography, but I had my best ever day photographing birds. That is mainly because the big birds such as herons and egrets were easy to photograph compared to birds in Europe, both because of their size and because they were so tame. I am sure they would appeal to many people, not just naturalists and birdwatchers, because they are quite exotic.

Anyway, I have sung the praises of the Island, I enjoyed the hotel and the staff were great, and I have now added a large number of pictures to my website, under Grenada.

British photographer Ian Julien, website: http://www.natureandpictures.com