• Texas Parks and Wildlife goes birding with local schools!

    Last spring, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department put on a wonderful program that reached out to two schools in the El Paso area. A total of 77 participants from Americas High school and their feeder school, Vista Del Sol, were involved in the very first “Celebrate Urban Birds!” event. The students arrived to Franklin Mountains State Park and spent the morning learning how to use the binoculars to identify birds, hiking, identifying bird calls, learning bird anatomy, and discussing the importance of citizen science!

    Each high schooler was paired with a younger “buddy” for the day from the elementary school and served as a mentor. The high schoolers guided their buddies through a fun, hands-on activity that allowed the students to get creative back at the high school. They each received a planter to decorate and seeds to plant that would serve as food sources for birds and butterflies. The idea behind the activity was to teach about the importance of creating “green spaces” to provide habitats for birds and other wildlife in urban environments. The busy day ended with data collection as part of a citizen science activity, where students tallied the number of birds observed within a given area during a set time period.

    Both the mentors and their buddies went home happy at the end of the day! One of the teachers, Neysa Hardin commented on the success of the event:
    “Thank you to Cesar, Adrianna, and John at Franklin Mountains State Park. The students had an incredible day! My high school students said that this was one of their best experiences ever. Not only did they learn about our local urban birds, but they also enjoyed being mentors for the day! The elementary students told their librarian that they can’t wait to visit the park again with their high school buddies. We look forward to partnering up again! Thank you a million times for this unique experience.”

    This tremendous event has had a great impact on both the participants and the surrounding community. Through this event, the students have been able to gain awareness and appreciation for birds and nature in their very own backyard. The high school students stepped up to their roles as mentors and really made an effort to be engaged and supportive throughout the activities. The relationships strengthened between the schools and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department have also been incredible! By holding activities in both the high school and state park, a bridge between the “wild” and the “urban” was formed, making connections between both habitats.

    A huge thank you to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for putting on a magnificent event!!

    Photo Gallery

  • Ecoambiente Club

    Since the summer days, the Ecoambiente Club of the vocational school, Escuela Superior Vocacional Manuel Méndez Liciaga, were planning wonderful fun-filled activities for their big event in October. In the days leading up to the main event, all of the students from the school came together to help out in any way they could.

    Photo by Ecoambiente Club
    Cosmetology students reinforced their skills by providing make-up and designing outfits that represented certain birds. Similarly, the horticulture students collaborated by recycling used automobile tires. They decorated them to simulate birds and hung them in the trees of their school’s backyard. A biology teacher even gave a lesson about the native birds that surrounded them in Puerto Rico. Other students helped design a brochure to advertise the event. Clearly, everyone was excited to enjoy birds with the community.
    On the day of the event, a total of around 250-500 people showed up! Several students gave brief talks about birds using the material provided by Celebrate Urban Birds in the library of their school. Participants were able to enjoy various activities around the school, such as singing songs, dressing up (using the clothing designed by the cosmetology students), and dancing, all with a focus on birds.

    1st place winner entry. Photo by Ecoambiente Club.
    One of the main activities included an avian poster contest, in which participants had to draw their favorite urban bird. There were over 200 entries, amazing! The judges must have had a very difficult decision to pick only three winners. Nevertheless, all the posters were used to decorate the hallways around the library.
    Another successful activity was the planting of sunflowers all around the school. The students and community came together to plant around 100 sunflowers. They learned about the necessary conditions needed to grow plants and how to choose a location that is both safe and accessible for birds. Most of all, they all learned about the importance of greening the environment.

    Here are some of the entries for the contest:

    The coordinator, Belkis Diaz, along with the help of students guided participants in the 10-minute Celebrate Urban Bird Observations. They went around the school trying to identify any of the native species of San Sebastián, Puerto Rico. And, it was a huge success as a total of 160 observations were done.
    It is very inspiring to know that any community can come together and enjoy the nature and the birds around them. Congratulations to all the students, teachers, and everyone involved in making this event so successful!

  • Green Jay Mayan Birding Club goes to Juarez

    This May, one of our 2015 Celebrate Urban Birds mini-grant winner organizations, the Green Jay Mayan Birding Club, had an event with the Juarez community, an hour away from Cancun, in the beautiful state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. The event was made possible with the participation of 20 people, 12 women and youth, and eight organizers. The main park had been set up to have pictures of native peninsula birds so the participants could check them out! The children arrived early in the morning, when they were given a brief tutorial, familiarizing them with the binoculars. They were able to do a test run, using the pictures placed around the park to try focusing with the binoculars. Even though it was early, everyone had big and bright smiles on their faces, super excited to start the day!

    photo © Green Jay Mayan Birding Club

    When everyone was ready to go, the event began on some trails nearby. Together, everyone was able to see a variety of native birds such as Turquoise-browed Motmots, Yellow-throated Euphonias, Masked Tityras, Black-headed Saltators, Red-legged Honeycreepers, Social Flycatchers, Orange Orioles, Altamira Orioles and Cinnamon Hummingbirds among others.

    The program’s itinerary was explained to all of the participants as the educational Celebrate Urban Birds kits were being passed out. The posters included in all of the packets motivated everyone and made them extra happy about participating in the program.

    photo © Green Jay Mayan Birding Club

    There were a few activities afterward with photos of the birds seen on the nature walk. They were able to draw and color in their favorite bird. It was exciting to be able to recognize some of the birds from the cornfields, in the park, and in their very own backyards!

    The older women of the community made orange juice, chicken and cheese empanadas, and brownies and different flavored cookies. The children also received a small bag with a tag that said, “I [name of child], love and protect the birds.” This bag held their drawings from the previous activity! Some of the children gave organizers from the Green Jay Mayan Birding Club their beautiful works of art to demonstrate their gratitude. This was definitely another wonderful event bringing communities closer to science; thank you, Green Jay Mayan Birding Club!

    Check out these beautiful pictures from below!

    You can learn more about Green Jay Mayan Birding here.

  • Green Jay Mayan Birding Club, Xocén Edition

    In the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, the Green Jay Mayan Birding Club, one of our 2015 mini-grant winners, has worked very hard to promote bird-watching, environmental and cultural conservation for people of all ages. The Green Jay Mayan Birding Club is one of our winner organizations of our 2015 Celebrate Urban Birds mini-grants that supports entertaining and educational events about birds. One of these events took place in the community of Xocén to celebrate the local birds with participation from children, young adults, and mothers of the community.

    photo © Green Jay Mayan Birding Club

    The event in Xocen began early in the morning, where the participants learned how to use binoculars given that it was the first time for many using them. Everyone was very excited to go out into the outdoors and observe birds! When they were finally ready to go out, they were divided into groups and walked towards the direction of the birdwatching site. The groups were super absorbed by the gorgeous scenery that even after 10 minutes of silent bird observation, they resumed for another hour. During their walk, they were able to observe the following beautiful birds: the Barn Swallow, Dark-billed Cuckoo, Blue-crowned Motmot, Social Flycatcher, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Collared Forest Falcon, Roadside Hawk, White-fronted Amazon, and Olive-throated Parakeet! Finally, to restore some of the energy, the participants enjoyed a delicious breakfast by one of the community women.

    photo © Green Jay Mayan Birding Club

    After enjoying an exquisite breakfast, the participants created beautiful drawings based on the birds they had observed earlier and different bird photographs available to them. Through the photos they were able to learn more about the various birds of the region, including birds they had seen earlier. Soon after this entertaining and colorful activity, they discovered the content of the Celebrate Urban Birds learning kit and discussed birding and bird conservation.

    photo © Green Jay Mayan Birding Club

    Finally, it was time for the last activity, where the participants planted native trees and fruits like avocados, mameys, mangoes, and zapotes. At the end, everyone contributed to planting a Ceiba, which is a tree considered sacred to the Mayans. It sent a message of unity, love, and friendship. The group also learned that when these trees are born, they bear fruit for humans and birds. Every time that the participants see a Ceiba tree, they will remember this day and what they helped create. What a beautiful message!

    The event was a complete success! The participants loved it, and the children were especially very interested in learning more about birds. They asked many questions and used guides to identify birds.

    Finally, some of equipment and binoculars were kindly provided by the Yucatan Jay group. How wonderful! Thank you for helping connect people to science and nature!

    Check out some beautiful photos of the event from below!

    You can learn more about Green Jay Mayan Birding here!

  • Green Jay Mayan Birding Club in Isla Mujeres

    In Isla Mujeres, a beautiful island off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, the Green Jay Mayan Birding Club organized a wonderful event. The event primarily included the participation of women and children of the area. For the first activity, the participants and the organizers came together very early in the morning in an hacienda in the island. When they were all together, the participants learned how to use binoculars, and in smaller groups led by Green Jay Mayan Birding, they took a walk to observe local birds. The walk was truly wonderful as the participants were able to observe birds such as the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Magnificent Frigatebird, Black Vulture, Black-necked stilt, Great Kiskadee, White-winged dove, and the Groove-billed ani!

    photo © Green Jay Mayan Birding Club

    When they returned from the walk, the participants received their educational kits from Celebrate Urban Birds to learn more about citizen science and the birds of the project. They also received art materials to draw the birds that they found most interesting during the walk. In addition, they shared beautiful photos of some birds native to the Yucatan Peninsula. The majority of the participants loved the colorful diversity of the local birds so much that they wanted to draw them!

    photo © Green Jay Mayan Birding Club

    After getting to express themselves so colorfully, everyone enjoyed a nice breakfast of scrumptious cheese and ground beef empanadas and drank homemade orange soda provided by one of the women of the island. Breakfast ended up providing some energy for the next outdoor activity! The participants, after being divided into teams, planted grosella, ciricote, and palm trees. They discussed the importance of these native trees to humans and birds and they were invited to plant in their own homes while being conscious of how birds are affected.

    For many, it was their first experience with binoculars and bird watching in general.
    It was very inspiring to see the youth so motivated and with hopes to have more opportunities such as these relating to bird observation and conservation!

    Check this gallery of photos of the fantastic event in Isla Mujeres!

    This wonderful event was made possible with the collaboration of the Isla Contoy Friends Association, the Hacienda Mundaca, and of course with the support of our Celebrate Urban Birds mini-grants for the Green Jay Mayan Birding Club.

  • Lifeworks Services, Inc. and Minnesota Veterans’ Home go birding!

    Lifeworks Services, Inc., a non-profit that works alongside adults with disabilities, was one of our 2015 mini-grant winners. This year, they partnered with Minnesota Veterans Home. and did some really cool activities!
    Lifeworks has had a wonderful relationship with Celebrate Urban Birds for the past six years and with each consecutive year the residents’ skills and passion for birds and their habitat has grown. This year, this love and curiosity for the outdoors was extended to the residents of the veterans’ home as well.

    photo © Lifeworks Services Inc.

    Once a week, between May and August, a birding event took place on the property owned by the veterans’ home. The 128 acre span of land has nature trails, a biking path, an outdoor pavilion, a garden, and a screened porch. This made it a perfect spot to get the residents outdoors and interacting with nature! The weekly birding events were led by birding mentor Kevin Smith. In addition to these birding events, there was a survey conducted on the various shrubs and other vegetation that helped the Lifeworks staff to make recommendations to the resident gardeners of possible plantings that would increase bird visits to the area!

    photo © Lifeworks Services Inc.
    These birding events were not the only thing taking place this summer, however! A beautiful mosaic was designed and placed in the newly created Edible Native Garden. The mosaic is a favorite art medium for the Lifeworks clients since it fosters collaboration and allows people of all skill levels to participate! A lovely bird bath was also created and placed in the garden, which will help bring more birds to the area while showcasing the historic surroundings as well. The adults at Lifeworks were not the only ones able to help out with these projects. A wooden frame for the mosaic was created by one of the veteran birders who works in the wood shop!

    On August 26th, a celebration was hosted on the Minnesota Veterans Home property to share the exciting experiences from the previous months. The entire Hastings community was invited to the event! There were refreshments, a “make and take” art project, and a fun bird walk. This bird walk included a papier-mâché scavenger hunt of the Urban Birds and where they are typically seen in the wild.

    photo © Lifeworks Services Inc.

    A Lifeworks representative commented on the impact of this event on the surrounding area:
    “After the presentation you could truly feel the good energy coming from the garden. I think it will be a blessing not just to the environment and the birds but the people living there as well.”

    The wonderful energy that is felt coming from the garden really reflects the wonderful relationships built between the two organizations this summer. This union between Lifeworks and the Minnesota Veterans Home tremendously impacted the lives of all of the participants. Teaching people with developmental disabilities and mental or physical illness has allowed these adults to find a life-long hobby. This offers them an opportunity to become an expert at something and interact and give back to the natural community around them.

    photo © Lifeworks Services Inc.

    For more information about Lifeworks, click here.

  • Birds, Careers and Conservation Youth Workshop – August 10 & 11, 2015

    Thanks to funding from the Bobolink and Bratten Foundations, on August 10th and 11th we had a fantastic time hosting twenty-six youth (and their eight chaperones) from Chicago (MI), Sacramento (CA), Detroit (MI), Palm Beach (FL), Oakland (CA), Ponce (PR), and St. Paul (MN), for our Birds, Careers and Conservation workshop here at Sapsucker Woods. The group participated in a diverse and interactive series of activities and presentations.

    Participants learned how to use sound recording equipment with David McCartt and Martha Fischer, expert sound archivists at The Lab. participants also learned why it is important to record natural sounds and have the sounds in scientific collections. They recorded local birds and other natural sounds in Sapsucker Woods. Participants also toured Macaulay Library and learned about cutting-edge technology, research, data collection, and analytical methods from staff. In addition, they met Ashik Rahaman, a research analyst in the Lab’s Bioacoustics Research Program who gave a presentation about listening to the oceans, and had a fun interactive activity, in which participants had the chance to learn how to use specialized sound analytic software, which participants used for recording, playing and exploring the sound components of their own voices, bird songs, or ocean creatures’ sounds.

    Participants toured the Cornell Museum of Vertebrates with Charles Dardia and were able to see the dozens of specimens of birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. Youth and their chaperones became familiar with some of the preservation techniques used to keep specimens in good condition and saw the effects that years of storage can have on different types of feathers and their coloration.

    NestWatch Project staff led students on a walk around Sapsucker Woods Nature Sanctuary to search for bird nests, but first gave a wonderful training session of how to use binoculars to observe birds and nests. Participants also learned about bird breeding biology and habitat, while youth used scopes and binoculars for the first time to watch local birds and their nests up close.

    Misaki Ouchida, Bartels Science Illustration Intern, led a drawing activity called “The Power of the Arts in Conservation.” She showed participants how to sketch birds and notice specific details about them. Youth and chaperones, enjoyed drawing birds, and discovering wonderful details of birds, they have not noticed before.

    Ian Davies, from the eBird team gave a fantastic presentation about eBird data and community. He talked about the impact of eBird on bird watching, bird data collection, and research at a global scale, and in turn, how this citizen science community effort of bird lovers can help to shape better conservation programs affecting birds and other living species all over the planet. On the same tone and with the same passion, Jessie Barry, Program Manager at Macaulay Library, and Merlin Project Leader, talk about the wonders of Merlin, a cutting-edge smart phone app able to identify birds with just few questions and clicks by user.

    Students went on a night walk through the Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary trails with Karen and Marta (CUBs Coordinators). They walked through the woods in near-darkness and kept completely silent. Youth were able to experience the sounds and feel of the woods in a way many people never do.

    Some of the other presentations by Lab faculty included “Conservation in the Neotropics and the Significance of Local Community Engagement” by Eduardo Iñigo Elias (Coordinator of the Neotropical Initiative), and “Discovering the Secrets of Elephants” by Peter Wrege, Director of the Elephant Listening Project (ELP), who also brought a huge speaker, to explain the mechanics of the low frequency sounds used as communication signals by elephants, and how this type of communication is so important for elephats in the African forests open spaces.

    Participants also took a tour of Cornell, including the Veterinary and the Engineering Schools. They learned about the admissions process and about research opportunities. Aimee Tavzel (undergraduate student at the College of Engineering), guided the School of Engineering tour, and talked about her experience as a student at Cornell, clubs, academic support, different brunches in the field of Engineering, research opportunities for undergraduates, and more. Students Braulio Castillo (sophmore, College of Arts & Sciences), and Shailee Shah (recently graduated, CALS) spoke about their experiences as undergraduates at Cornell. Part of the group, who had to stay for an extra night, had a chance to have a pic-nic dinner at the shore of Cayuga Lake, and then take a hike to watch the beautiful Taughannock Falls in the evening.

    Overall, the August 2015 Bird, Careers and Conservation Workshop was a great success!

    All photos on this page were taken by Karen Purcell or Marta del Campo. Thank you Karen and Marta!

  • Latino Outdoors

    Latino Outdoors is a national organization devoted to bringing Latinos outdoors to explore nature, learn, and play! This past August 7th, Latino Outdoors, one of our 2015 Mini-Grant winners, put together a wonderful series of events named “Celebrate Urban Birds” in Modesto, California. Located in the Central Valley of California, the three-day event took place in the Tuolumne River Regional Park geared towards students and their families to learn about urban birds, especially local birds.

    During the event, the students created birding journals and learned how to spot and listen to birds. Daniel, 7, was particularly excited about this part of the event: “I’m going to write this all down in my journal!” Additionally, they made a trip to the Great Valley museum and made great observations identifying the birds of the Central Valley region of California. Ultimately, this ended up being everyone’s favorite activity, because they loved identifying the birds’ beautiful patterns! One of the moms said that more trips like these should be organized so kids could visit their local parks or museums. It was awesome to have side-by-side events where the students could observe birds on the site and in the museum! On the last day, students planted sunflower seeds, made bird feeders, made beautiful watercolor paintings, and ended the festivities with a delicious potluck. Things got a little messy but it was lots of fun. Combining science and art turned out to be super fun and exciting!

    Raquel Rangel, who put together the “Celebrate Urban Birds” event and the Latino Outdoors regional coordinator of the California Central Valley, says that the event aimed to instill a sense of curiosity about the outdoors for the community she worked with. For her, the most important takeaway of the event was the involvement of the entire family. She states that she also wanted to get the parents involved so that they, too, could enjoy the magnificence of the world of birds and of nature. Raquel was thrilled at the number of participants who attended the events and was excited to give back to her community. Nature is important and for everyone!

    Check out some cool pictures from “Celebrate Urban Birds” below!

    You can check out more of Latino Outdoors and their work here, and also on Facebook and Twitter!

  • Let’s Go Outdoors!

    Let’s Go Outdoors, one of our 2015 mini-grant winners, is an organization that seeks to raise family and individual participation in outdoor recreation, especially among people of color and/or urban communities. This August, they hosted a wonderful full-day event in the Awbury Arboretum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From 9A.M. to 5P.M., participants were able to experience birds through art, dance, games, and much more!

    photo © Let's Go Outdoors
    In the morning, the participants enjoyed a nature journalism workshop led by Dr. Carol Welsh which focused on birds and their habitats and needs. Each person received a small case containing coloring pencils/crayons/markers, water color paints, paintbrushes, and card-stock. They also received a small nature journal, a 4-Color Analysis explanation, and pictures of various birds. The children were so fascinated that they didn’t want to finish and kept working on their drawings even after Dr. Welsh had left!
    photo © Let's Go Outdoors
    Later on, Theatre and Me, LLC’s Marcus A. Siler provided an acting/theatre lesson with bird related themes. He helped participants with their acting talents and how to embrace their “inner bird” – from the sounds to the movements. The children loved to do the chicken dance, warble like a bird, and use nature as a backdrop for living. Participants said that they had “never thought about how birds move, act, and sound” until they had to try it out themselves.
    photo © Let's Go Outdoors
    The most successful activity was the 10-Minute Celebrate Urban Birds Group Observation. The participants were introduced to various species through the Celebrate Urban Birds’ Silhouette and Cool Facts Posters. They were also given and taught how to use appropriate-sized binoculars. Everyone, adults and child alike, was fascinated trying to locate birds in the area. It was almost like they were seeing birds for the first time! Many of them admitted that they never really looked for birds before, and that this activity inspired them to keep a watchful eye when they are walking to and from their destinations.

    Throughout the day, there were rotating stations such as, flying a remote controlled Angry Bird Air Swimmer, making origami birds, “hunting” for birds (stuffed dolls!) in the arboretum, and matching birds with their pictures. Similarly, participants were able to win bird-themed prizes that included things like make-your-own birdhouse/bird-feeder craft supplies.

    Overall, Let’s Go Outdoors’s event was extremely successful in increasing the community’s interest in urban birds. They were also thankful that they were able to go outdoors and learn more about the birds that surround them. They said:
    “Thank you so much! It is wonderful that everything was free because people need to learn about the places that they can observe birds, which are really right in their backyards or out their front doors.”

    Congratulations Let’s Go Outdoors for hosting such a wonderful event. Keep birding on!

    You can check out more of Let’s Go Outdoors and their work here!

  • Birds, Careers and Conservation Youth Workshop – June 29 and 30, 2015

    Thanks to funding from the Bobolink and Bratten Foundations, on June 29th and 30th we had a fantastic time hosting twenty-six youth (and their eleven chaperones) from Texas, Florida, California, Puerto Rico, Minnesota, Michigan, Maryland, Washington DC, Rhode Island, and New York, for our Careers and Conservation Workshop here at Sapsucker Woods. The group participated in a diverse and interactive series of activities and presentations.

    Participants learned how to use sound recording equipment with Martha Fischer and David McCartt and also learned why it is important to record natural sounds and have the sounds in scientific collections. They recorded local birds and other natural sounds in Sapsucker Woods. Participants also toured Macaulay Library and learned about cutting-edge technology, research, data collection, and analytical methods from staff. In addition, they met Ashik Rahaman, a research analyst in the Lab’s Bioacoustics Research Program who gave a presentation about listening to the oceans.

    David Bonter (Assistant Director of Citizen Science) and two students led an interactive bird banding demonstration. Students asked questions about bird banding and learned about why it matters. Students and chaperones were very engaged in this activity and even got to release birds back into the wild.

    NestWatch Project staff led students on a walk around Sapsucker Woods Nature Sanctuary to search for bird nests. They learned about breeding biology and habitat. Youth used scopes and binoculars to see local species up close. Students were also introduced to YardMap and learned about habitat creation and technology applications in conservation.

    Participants toured the Cornell Museum of Vertebrates with Charles Dardia and were able to see the dozens of specimens of birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. Youth and their chaperones became familiar with some of the preservation techniques used to keep specimens in good condition and saw the effects that years of storage can have on different types of feathers and their coloration.

    Some of the other presentations by Lab faculty included “Conservation in the Neotropics and the Significance of Local Community Engagement” by Eduardo Iñigo Elias (Coordinator of the Neotropical Initiative), and “Discovering the Secrets of Elephants” by Peter Wrege, Director of the Elephant Listening Project (ELP).

    Students went on a night walk through the Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary trails with Karen and Marta (CUBs Coordinators). They walked through the woods in near-darkness and kept completely silent. Youth were able to experience the sounds and feel of the woods in a way many people never do.

    Misaki Ouchida, Bartels Science Illustration Intern, led a drawing activity called “The Power of the Arts in Conservation.” She showed participants how to sketch birds and notice specific details about them.

    Participants also took a tour of Cornell, including the Veterinary and the Engineering Schools. They learned about the admissions process and about research opportunities. Natasha Wissmann (junior, College of Engineering), guided the School of Engineering tour, and talked about her experience as a student at Cornell, clubs, academic support, financial aid, and more. Students Maritza Medina (junior, School of Industrial Labor Relations), Braulio Castillo (freshman, College of Arts & Sciences), and Shailee Shah (recently graduated, CALS) spoke about their experiences as undergraduates at Cornell.

    Students stayed in a dorm on the campus and ate some of their meals at Cornell dining with undergraduate students!

    Overall, the June 2015 Careers and Conservation Workshop was a great success!

    All photos on this page were taken by Marta del Campo. Thank you Marta!

  • Alianza Mexicana para la Conservación de la Vida Silvestre

    The Mexican Alliance for Wildlife Conservation (Alianza Mexicana para la Conservación de la Vida Silvestre), an organization based in Hermosillo, Mexico, and one of Celebrate Urban Birds’ mini grant winners of 2015, hosted a beautiful event on May 9th of this year. The event, titled The First Bird Festival of Cananea (Primer Festival de las Aves de Cananea), brought the community of Cananea, a city in the northern state of Sonora, Mexico, together through the learning of birds. The festival was a great success, with the participation of over 100 children between the ages of 5 and 14, as well as over 50 adults. What a turnout!

    photo © Alianza Mexicana por la Conservación de la Vida Silvestre

    The festival began early in the morning with some good old fashioned bird watching! This great event was hosted by the Management Unit for Wildlife Conservation Buenavista del Cobre, part of Grupo México, a major mining corporation in Cananea. Volunteers from the Department of Ecology acted as guides throughout the festival, leading groups of participants of mixed ages in identifying and photographing birds, followed by a tour through the Management Unit for Wildlife Conservation´s Eco Trail. In addition to these fun activities, the participating children and their parents learned about the different focal bird species, as well as about topics such as biodiversity and conservation of wildlife, in talks led by the Mexican Alliance for Wildlife Conservation and the birding organization Aviario Sonorense para la Protección de Especies Silvestres (translates to the Sonoran Aviary for the Protection of Wild Species). These two groups, along with some representatives of the Department of Ecology of Grupo Mexico and the Management Unit for WIldlife Conservation of Buenavista del Cobre, officially inaugurated the Bird Festival.

    photo © Alianza Mexicana por la Conservación de la Vida Silvestre

    To add to the fun of the Bird Festival, the children that participated in the event were able to take part in a drawing contest following the inauguration. This was one of the more moving aspects of the event for the Mexican Alliance, as they had the opportunity to see first-hand the talent of the boys and girls of Cananea, as well as their respect for and admiration of birds. The girls dominated the contest, winning the majority of the votes and the best places in the contest. These talented girls were not only given commemorative medals, courtesy of Grupo Mexico, but they were also given binoculars as prizes in the hopes that they will continue to watch birds. To continue in the spirit of protection and conservation, all children and youth were given pine and oak seedlings produced in Grupo Mexico’s nursery garden, as well as taught how to plant and care for them. These plants will serve as habitats for urban birds in Cananea!

    photo © Alianza Mexicana por la Conservación de la Vida Silvestre

    The children and youth that attended the Bird Festival are all students at the Profesor Gilberto Castillo Ríos Primary School, which is known for being a very green school. The school´s management, teachers, and students not only provided a tremendous amount of enthusiasm in the event, but they demonstrated a true commitment to conservation, reforestation, and the protection of native wild fauna. Their participation in the Bird Festival only emphasized this commitment which will hopefully only continue to grow!

    photo © Alianza Mexicana por la Conservación de la Vida Silvestre

    The First Bird Festival of Cananea, Sonora, Mexico, was an extraordinary experience for the Mexican Alliance for Wildlife Conservation. The organization´s leaders were thrilled by the amount of participation their event received from the children and youth of Cananea, who are already eager to attend the next Bird Festival! However, this wonderful event would not have been possible without the support of all the contributing organizations, as well as the teachers, parents, and students themselves. The amount of people that the Bird Festival reached was great and we can only hope that everyone who participated, both children and adults alike, will continue to explore the nature around them and learn more about the birds and fauna that live in it, while doing their best to protect it!

    Check out some other cool pictures from this wonderful Celebration in Mexico!

    If you would like to know more about the wonderful activities of The Mexican Alliance for Wildlife Conservation ( la Alianza Mexicana para la Conservación de la Vida Silvestre), you can also find more information at their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages.

  • 601 Tully House

    601 Tully House, one of our 2015 mini grant award recipients from Syracuse, NY, will be hosting an event on Sunday, May 31st, from 1-4pm. This event is open to the public, and best of all, it’s free! Participants will have the chance to meet a variety of birds of prey and the opportunity to take part in other fun activities, such as making bird feeders to hang in 601 Tully House’s Community Bird and Butterfly Garden! All who come are welcome to visit this fantastic organization’s community garden and community sculpture, as well as enjoy fun art.

    Take a look at their event flyer found below for more information!

    For more information on 601 Tully House, please visit their website here!

  • Kiddie Science

    One of the best ways we can help the world is by teaching children about science and ways to use this knowledge to aid the planet from a young age. Kiddie Science, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit organization and one of our 2015 Mini Grant winners, has been doing this since its establishment in 2013. They state that it is their mission “to empower children to apply critical thinking skills to their world and foster a lifetime love of science”.

    On Thursday, April 9th, Kiddie Science hosted a pop-up science workshop at the Audubon Center at Prospect Park that was free to all participants. About 60 families participated in the event, with children of all ages. Their event, called Exploring Urban Birds, allowed participants to learn about bird characteristics, explore their adaptations, create an art project, and run their own bird survey in the park.

    The Exploring Urban Birds workshop was centered around the question “What is a bird?”. It was identified that birds are living creatures but two other characteristics that all birds have are feathers and a beak. There were a series of fun, interactive activities throughout the event that helped the children learn more about these unique characteristics.

    There was a hands-on activity involving tweezers and tongs in learning more about bird beaks. Not all bird beaks are the same, so the different bird beak shapes and sizes fits the function that they serve; a bird’s beak is specialized for its food and environment! The children were given many different sized tongs and tweezers and were asked to pick up a variety of different objects that a bird might want to pick up with its beak. The children learned that some “beaks” were better at picking up certain objects than others!

    The kids also had a worksheet where they could “build-a-bird”. They were given a basic template of a bird that was missing a beak and were asked to draw in the beaks they thought the bird might need. They could also glue on some feathers or color in their birds!

    Afterwards, the fun moved outdoors. Although it was a gray and chilly day, the 50 kids who participated in the birdwatching had a blast! The viewing area was near the Prospect Park Lake. The children observed for a total of 10 minutes and afterwards tallied up the birds they saw using Celebrate Urban Birds’ super cool tally sheet! No one had birdwatched before, but that didn’t stop anyone. With a little help from the pictures on the sheet and some practice, everyone was able to have a great time identifying the birds!

    Recently, the Audubon Center has had less hours open to the public. Kiddie Science’s activity was able to bring the community back in touch with nature, something that everyone had been eagerly awaiting. Prospect Park, located in the heart of Brooklyn, is an oasis of nature in a very urban environment. This large, green space allows tons of different species of birds and other animals to thrive. With the help of Kiddie Science and the Audubon center, the Exploring Urban Birds activity was able to educate and reconnect the youth of Brooklyn to the nature around them!

    Ms. Carmen, Executive Director and Lead Science Teacher for Kiddie Science, would like to extend her thanks on behalf of Kiddie Science to the Audubon center for being so accommodating to the event, opening the entire second floor of the center for the various activities.

    Check out some cool pictures from Exploring Urban Birds below!

    For more information on this great organization, visit Kiddie Science’s website here.

  • NatureFest at the WorldBeat Cultural Center

    As one of our 2015 mini-grant winners, the WorldBeat Center put on a series of events that took place at their very own Ethno-Botany Peace Garden at Balboa Park in San Diego, CA. These NatureFest events introduced the urban and suburban community to nature through bird observation, gardening, and the arts. Many people in the area did not know much about birds, their migration patterns, and how to help them locally. Activities were specially planned to observe some of these migratory birds and learn about ways to help them around the San Diego neighborhoods. The NatureFest activities were fun, interactive, and celebrated both Balboa Park’s and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s centennial anniversaries.


    The Ethno-Botany Peace Garden was the perfect classroom space for many of the activities. Before the bird observation took place, Celebrate Urban Birds kits were distributed among participants to introduce some of the local birds. A bird call device was used to help introduce the different sounds the thirteen selected focal species make. With a little bit of teamwork, everyone was able to participate in the activity! The children had a chance to use binoculars to observe all the birds that could be heard around them.

    After discovering and enjoying the local birds, there were fantastic performances that got everyone movin’ and groovin’ to the beat. The children were invited up on stage to sing along and play the drums! The next group on stage performed wonderful African nature songs.

    There was tons of involvement from the San Diego community at the NatureFest activities! From local vendors with Native American gifts for sale, to art workshops with tons of arts and crafts activities for the children, there was a little bit of the community everywhere you looked! Youth and regular visitors of the park installed bird feeders in the brand new California Native Garden at the park. To wrap it all up, all the participants and staff members came together to take part in an amazing, collective canvas to remember NatureFest by! It was a fantastic event!

    While still with a fresh memory of the NatureFest activities, the WorldBeat Center is busy helping their community and the surrounding wildlife. As many of you may know, the state of California is currently facing a huge water shortage crisis. This drought not only affects humans but it also impacts the surrounding ecosystems. Some bird habitats are slowly decreasing in size and in number! The WorldBeat Center has acquired two atmospheric water generators that make 7 gallons of water a day just by using the humidity in the air. The WorldBeat Center has taken an active local role in conservation, sustainability, and wildlife. Currently, they have plans to create additional habitat for birds within the area of the WorldBeat Center’s Children’s Peace Garden. Wonderful work and fantastic community!

    Video

    Check out all the wonderful outdoor activities at WBC in this awesome thank you video they made for Celebrate Urban Birds!

    Thank you WorldBeat Cultural Center. You are fantastic!