• Pamlico Partnership for Children teaches about birds!

    It is never too early to start learning about our feathered friends, and the Pamlico Partnership for Children agrees! Last spring, the Pamlico Partnership for Children, one of our 2016 Celebrate Urban Birds mini-grant winners, spread bird awareness to the youngest members of their community – preschoolers. This wonderful group has a mission to provide aid and opportunities for all children in Pamlico County, North Carolina, so that they enter kindergarten healthy and happy.

    photo © Pamlico Partnership for Children
    The staff at the Partnership were able to put their local environment to great use. As their office was surrounded by wetlands flourishing with wildlife, they decided it was the perfect location for a bird sanctuary and garden that the little ones could enjoy. The garden was complete with various plants and flowers, a bird bath, and several bird feeders. The birds weren’t the only ones who enjoyed the space, a black bear paid a visit too!

    In the classrooms, the teachers and staff worked hard to prepare materials and activities for the children to get a full experience of birds. They added various bird-theme lessons to their curriculum to teach them about our focal species – from their feathers and beaks to their habitats and nests. Each lesson was accompanied by art activities which the children enjoyed. A brown paper tree was created and hung on the wall where the kids could place cut-outs of the focal species on it. Later on, they were provided with an opportunity to hatch chicks from eggs and even watch a live feed webcam video of an eagle and her chicks.

    After a whole month of learning, the children went outside to do our citizen science activity – a 10 minute observation of urban birds and data collection. Teachers handed out some binoculars that the students shared to view the wildlife around them. The preschoolers were excited to see how the birds interacted with the newly created garden. They finished their bird-theme curriculum with an exciting art project. The children were able to make and paint small bird houses to take home and place in their own backyards.
    We congratulate the Pamlico Partnership for Children for their efforts and thank them for exposing these young minds to the importance of birds in our communities and citizen science. The Partnership shows us that anyone, regardless of age, can participate and appreciate learning about urban birds. What a wonderful experience!
    photo © Pamlico Partnership for Children

  • The alliance of AMECVIS A.C. and FMVZ

    The Alianza Mexicana para la Conservación de la Vida Silvestre (AMECVIS A.C.) and the Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootecnia (FMVZ), formed an alliance dedicated to the conservation and environmental education in the communities of the San Luis Potosí region in Mexico. The goal of this alliance was to create an educational program about the local biodiversity of the area, and its ecological, economic and social importance to the inhabitants of El Porvenir, Coronado, El Epazote, Venado, Santa Rita y Guaname in San Luis Potosí, México.

    photo © Génesis Flores

    At the beginning of the project, the group gathered data about the various species of birds and mammals native to these communities, and with this information created wonderful presentations to educate the interested participants of San Luis Potosí. These presentations taught about the local nature and the wild inhabitants of the region, and they also focused on incentivizing the care for the wild life and the environment. Participants also learned about the different aspects of the local ecosystem, and its importance for the animal and plant kingdoms and the people of San Luis Potosí. One of the presentations demonstrated how participants could benefits by engaging in environmental projects surrounding care, management and conservation of the environment; and in turn, how this could improve not only the local wild life, but also their own quality of life.

    The alliance did a stellar job in being inclusive, as they were able to attract a great variety of participants: from the elder to adolescents! All of the participants, regardless of their age, responded with interest and excitement to the presentations. The participants learned about the bird species local to their community, and when they recognized them, the participants taught the educators the local name people use to refer to the species. In other words, the teaching and learning was a two way street where both community members and educators learned from each other. From this exchange of information it also became a lot easier to gather data about the local species with the participants.

    The organizers also cared to include school children in environmental education so they visited public schools in all of the communities of San Luis de Potosí. They adapted the presentations to target this younger audience, and they also included didactic activities to captivate the interest of the little ones. By the end of the activities the participants were every excited about environmental conservation and they were hungry to learn more about the nature that surrounds them and how to care for it.

    The collaboration of FMVZ and AMECVIS A.C. was a great success. Many of the participants benefitted from learning about the birds and the ecosystem of this region in Mexico, as well as how they are able to improve their quality of life by helping the environment. In addition, the organizers also benefitted from learning about the experiences of the participants with the ecosystem. We truly hope that this inspires more educational organizations to work alongside local communities to form alliances of mutual learning and to better the environment, which benefits everyone involved.

    This page was created by Vanessa Navarro Rodriguez.

  • Community Leaders’ Workshop

    On October 18 and 19, we hosted 18 community leaders from across the United States at our 2016 Community Leaders Workshop here at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This workshop was for community advocates and grassroots leaders who wanted to learn about citizen science, engaging communities in conservation through the arts, bird watching, greening and stewardship, and paths to higher education for low income youth.

    The workshop started off with a morning bird walk guided by Brad Walker, multimedia collections specialist, Marc Devokaitis, public information specialist, both from Macaulay Library, and by Lee Ann van Leer, Bird Academy project assistant. It was followed by a welcoming ceremony by the Celebrate Urban Birds team. Participants met David Bonter, director of citizen science, and his student assistant, Facundo Fernandez-Duque, to learn about bird banding.

    • Photos during the Celebrate Urban Birds Leaders Workshop October 18-19, 2016 at Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY. Photos by Marilu Lopez Fretts

    “The experience of holding a bird that had been banded after its ID and measurements were recorded, examining it for a brief moment and then releasing it was a powerful event in my life” – Shelley Wine.

    Charles Dardia, collections manager for the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates, gave participants a tour that included dozens of specimens of birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and even a few mammals. The participants became familiar with some of the preservation techniques used to keep specimens in good condition and were able to see the effects that years of storage can have on feathers and their coloration.

    Participants learned about cutting-edge research and data collection methods from the Macaulay Library’s multimedia collections specialist, Martha Fischer, and collections development curator Greg Budney. They also explored sound with Ashik Rahaman, a research analyst with the Bioacoustics Research Program, using a computer program developed at the Lab called “Raven Lite 2.0.”

    • Photos during the Celebrate Urban Birds Leaders Workshop October 18-19, 2016 at Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY. Photos by Marilu Lopez Fretts

    Jennifer Shirk, director for field development for Citizen Science Association, gave a fabulous presentation on citizen science in which she explained how each of us can have in impact in our own communities by participating in these programs, such as the Lab’s Project FeederWatch, NestWatch, Celebrate Urban Birds, and the Habitat Network.

    Bartels Science Illustration Intern, Virginia Greene, conducted a drawing session called “Deepening Observation Through the Arts.” She showed workshop participants how to use sketching to improve their observation skills so they notice more details about birds. The participants had time to do some scientific illustrations with impressive results. In another drawing-related activity, participants also got an introduction to nature journaling from Holly A. Faulkner, artist and program aide. Everyone applied their new skills in their nature journals while walking on the trails through Sapsucker Woods.

    Participants peeked into the secret lives of nesting birds captured live over the Lab’s Bird Cams and learned about the power of eBird across the globe. They also explored Merlin, a bird identification app. There was also time to learn about Bird Academy, a website with many interactive resources used to teach bird biology and bird watching techniques.

    • Photos during the Celebrate Urban Birds Leaders Workshop October 18-19, 2016 at Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY. Photos by Marilu Lopez Fretts

    Participants also heard from two conservation-science experts who work in Latin America: Eduardo Iñigo-Elías and Viviana Ruiz Gutierrez. Many birds that breed in North American migrate to Central and South America for the winter, so it’s important to focus on conservation in both regions.

    Staff at the Cornell Lab were enormously thankful that each of the participating community leaders shared their deep knowledge about community engagement and discussed their action plans for helping people to become more aware of birds and nature.

    Overall, this year’s Community Leader Workshop was a great success and was made possible thanks to funding from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Thomas Cade Foundation.

    Check out these cool pictures from the event!!

    Community Leaders Workshop 2016 from Celebrate Urban Birds on Vimeo.

  • Instituto Mixto de Educación Básica en la Cooperativa Ixlú

    The Instituto Mixto de Educación Básica de la Cooperativa Ixlú, an elementary school, in Flores, Guatemala, organized a a week-long event for students and their families in July. The activities were focused on art, gardening, and bird identification. Games such as bird bingo, habitat discovery, obstacle games, and a scavenger hunt all made learning even more fun. Many of the activities and games were part of the International BirdSleuth curriculum, a curriculum developed at the Lab to promote educational activities about birds, their habitats, conservation, and bird citizen science in Latin American schools.

    During mini-lessons in each module, participants shared personal experiences with local birds in their everyday lives, the importance of birds in nature, how diverse birds are, and what they do for our communities.

    The students created personal bird journals for sketching and making notes about their bird observations. Kids “spied” on the birds with binoculars and field guides and were able to start naming familiar local species. They noted that sometimes the males and females of the same species look different, which is called sexual dimorphism.

    One of the most popular activities was creating an art gallery. Each student picked a favorite local bird, learned about its body parts, and how to identify its silhouette. Afterward, the students drew their bird and presented information about the species to the class. Their drawings were hung outside to showcase the students’ artistic talents. In a habitat-creating workshop, the students learned about container gardening and how to reuse common objects found in their homes, such as tires and plastic containers, to create habitats for their bird friends.

    Many migratory species pass through or remain in Guatemala during the winter months of Northern America. The students learned about what migration means for the birds, including the potential dangers of traveling so far from their summer homes. They worked together to brainstorm solutions to help reduce the negative effects on these migratory species.

    At the end of the fun-filled week, parents were invited to a closing ceremony where the fantastic work of the students was showcased, including the art gallery and a beautiful new garden. Everyone received certificates showing they finished the program. The school’s director and teachers were recognized for all the help and resources that went into making this event such a great success.

  • Protección de la fauna Mexicana A.C.

    Protección de la Fauna Mexicana A.C. (Profauna) using the funds from Celebrate Urban Birds conducted a wonderful event called Celebra las Aves Urbanas. Protección de la Fauna Mexicana A.C. is a civil organization that has been around for over twenty five years. They focus on the management, conservation and education of staff that works in natural areas of Mexico. Their event, Celebra las Aves Urbanas, took place on May 8th, a day before the International Bird Day; in Parque Ecológico El Chapulín, in the Coahuila state, Mexico. During the long day event they had a series of fantastic activities that engaged all of their participants, including young children, adolescents and adults.

    The event began with a lecture, in which the environmental educators of Profauna shared their knowledge about birds and bird watching. The educators gave all of the guests notebooks and pens to take notes during the lecture, and to use for the bird watching expedition that followed the lecture. After the talk, everyone was invited outside, where they split up in smaller groups and used their new bird watching knowledge to use. Every group was led by one of the Profauna guides which allowed the participants to engage and ask questions.

    The walk was a lovely and inspiring experience for everybody, and it provided material for the following activity. One of the educators led a poetry workshop and participants shared their feelings and insights about the local birds they had sighted through personal poems. At the end of the activity, everyone read their short poems, and Profauna shared them with us! We cannot help ourselves but share their lovely words and rhymes, written only in Spanish.

    Que era golondrina
    En el aire urbano
    Pajareando y volando
    – Magaly Sánchez Ruiz

    “Ave hermosa
    Maravillosa que eres
    Con bello canto
    Las plantas dan vida
    Embellecen nuestra ciudad
    Crecen tanto que frutos nos dan”

    – Isaí Alejandro Figueroa Escobedo & Mariano Arteaga Martínez

    Vuela golosa
    Alegre y en libertad
    – Alejandra Tamez Ramírez & Erick Solórzano Pérez
    Bello cantor
    Susurras al viento
    Alegras mi corazón
    – Lorena Pérez Sánchez

    After the heart warming and creative activity, the event shifted gears into a workshop where participants could directly help local birds. This project focused on reusing recyclables to make bird feeders and fountains with spoons, plastic bottles, and sticks. The participants used their creativity and brain power to come up with inventive and beautiful artifacts to take home and help the birds in their local neighborhoods.

    The last activity of the day was similar to the recycling workshop, because it helped the people, the community and the birds. The educators led a composting lecture and explained how composting can be used in homes gardens. After the presentation, the participants were led to the composting area of the park, where they were able to compost and practice what they had just learned. This made the composting lesson very useful and practical; participants had a new skill to use when they went back to their normal lives.

    The Celebra las Aves Urbanas event was wrapped up in a wonderful ceremony, where everyone received recognition diplomas, as well as educational material to continue bird watching at home.
    It is amazing to see all of the communitarian efforts for conservation, and the love the people of Mexico feel for the birds. We are very grateful to share how different people have come together to continuously improve the environment and their communities. Thank you Profauna for all that you have done in this engaging event!

    If you would like to learn more about what happened during this event, you can access the report they shared with us here (unfortunately it is only in Spanish).

    This page was created by Vanessa Navarro Rodriguez.

  • Blackstone Community Center Celebrates Urban Birds!

    Summer is quickly coming to an end, but what better way to enjoy this beautiful season than by celebrating urban birds? The summer day camp program at Blackstone Community Center in Boston, Massachusetts, celebrated urban birds on July 21st! The day started with an interactive presentation led by Anita DeStefano from Boston University. During the presentation, the children from the camp were asked to identify some CUBs focal species via “clickers”. At the end of the presentation, the children identified the birds with the “clickers” again and a greater number was able to identify each focal species!

    After the presentation, the kids had the opportunity to do some hands-on activities that were set up into three stations! In the first station, activity leader Luis Feliciano helped the kids plant sunflower seeds and he encouraged them to green their neighborhood!

    photo © Anita DeStefano

    At the second station, the kids were able to put their newly learned identification skills to use! With the help of expert birders Jackson Mersick and Ursula and David Goodine, the children observed some birds through binoculars at the Blackstone Square and Franklin Square Parks!

    The final station incorporated art into urban birding! Anjelique Casiano led the students from the summer camp in this fun activity where they were able to make two bird-inspired cards. At the end of the event, they each gave one of their cards to seniors at a local senior housing center!

    The event was a success and Amparo Ortiz, a member of the Board of Directors of the Blackstone Community Center, could not be happier with the result:

    “We hope this Celebrate Urban Birds event was just the start of a continued program to bring birding, citizen science, art, and neighborhood greening to the children of the Blackstone Community Center. We thank the Blackstone Community Center staff, the activity leaders and birder volunteers and the Celebrate Urban Birds project for making this great event possible”

    Written by Juan Ramírez Correa

  • Birds, Careers and Conservation Workshop Summer 2016

    Thanks to support from Thomas Cade Funds, on August 9 and 10, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology hosted a group of youth and their chaperones from Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Montana, Puerto Rico and South Dakota for our Birds, Careers and Conservation Workshop. During the two-day workshop the students participated in activities focused on bird banding, the Macaulay Library, bioacoustics, conservation science, citizen science, the arts, and the Museum of Vertebrates. At the workshop students met with top-notch scientists who shared with them their latest work. Students had the opportunity to ask questions and experience many hands-on activities. In addition, students and chaperones visited the Cornell campus including the College of Engineering, and Akwe:kon, the university’s only residence hall established specifically to celebrate American Indian culture and heritage.

    The workshop exceeded the expectations of the participants “I loved it every time even more… each part of the workshop woke up in me the desire to discover new things, to move to action, to dream, but with the certainty that those dreams and plans (for the future) can become true,” said one of the participants. “…it has been one of the most enlightening and inspiring experiences that I have ever had. Thank you for this opportunity!”

    Another participant stated, “My favorite part is the link between the community and science education, since I feel very inspired by the work of the scientists. I think that the more educated the communities become, the better results we will see in terms of biodiversity conservation.”

    One of the highlights of the workshop was a night walk on Sapsucker Woods’ trails. “Never thought to do a night walk in the woods, so cool!”

    Celebrate Urban Birds youth workshops are designed to offer students from underserved communities a chance to learn more about career opportunities in the sciences. In addition the workshops prepare students to take on more active roles in leading stewardship projects back home.

    Celebrate Urban Birds workshops would not be possible without the help of staff from every department of the Cornell Lab.

    We are enormously thankful to all participants, chaperones, and presenters.

    We are looking forward to our next Birds, Careers and Conservation Workshop in 2017!

  • Urban Birds Festival at Museo Biologico Butantan

    The wonderful people of the Fundação Butantan planned, organized and hosted the Festival de las Aves Urbanas in the Museo Biologico Butantan in Sao Paulo, Brazil. People attending the festival came from different backgrounds and areas in the city. Children and their guardians, as well as school teachers from all over the city participated in the festival activities. With the help of the staff of the Museo Biológico’s education program, the Fundação was able to host activities that simultaneously entertained and educated all of those who attended.

    At the festival, there was a small exhibit of bird field guides, binoculars, and other instruments used by ornithologists and bird watchers. The goal of this exhibit was to show what bird watchers and ornithologists use to learn, enjoy and study the birds of their region. The organizers also ran an interactive workshop for the guests, where they were taught to make paper-folded (origami) birds. These origami models resembled birds found in the urban areas, so the activity was a great way to teach the guests about the details and aesthetics of the birds found locally.

    The participants had wonderful opportunities to engage in other forms of artistic expression as well. Children and adults were happy to be learn about local birds through the painting, drawing, and sculpting workshops the educators hosted. These activities were a blast! And they were greatly appreciated because they made science more understandable and entertaining for everyone!

    During the second day of the festival, the community and participants helped plant native trees and bushes, to attract and help feed local birds. The plants were donated by a women’s co-op, located at the Valle de Ribeira in Sao Paulo. They planted Pitanga (Eugenia uniflora, pitangueira), Jaboticaba (Myrciaria cauliflora, jabuticabeira), Cambucí (Campomanesia phaea, cambuci), as well as Oiti (Licania tomentosa, Oiti) and pimentero brasileño (Schinus therebinthifolius, aroeirinha). The plants species were selected because they produce fruits that the birds feed on; and by feeding on them, the birds then disperse the plant’s seeds. Planting in the community was a fun way to learn while simultaneously engaging with nature, spending time outdoors, and creating a habitat birds. It also gave everyone who participated an opportunity to learn the connection between the plants chosen and local birds.

    The festival was an excellent feat for the Museo Biológico de Butantan, as well as for its Observatorio de Aves del Instituto Butantan. It attracted many people to learn and to participate in the activities about local birds, as well as to promote bird conservation in Sao Paulo. Thank you to everyone who participated and made this event possible. This festival made a positive and fun impact on the local birds as well as on the community of Sao Paulo, and we hope to see more of these events in many more communities!

    Special thanks to Camilla Carvalho and Naylien Barreda for the beautiful photos.

    This page was written by Vanessa Navarro Rodriguez.

  • Sociedad Protectora del Medioambiente y Fomento del Turismo de Huentelauquén

    The Sociedad Protectora del Medioambiente y Fomento del Turismo de Huentelauquén is one of the Latin American organizations that have won one of our mini-grants of 2016! The organization works in the Choapa province, in the north of Chile, and its members include people from various age groups, from eighteen to seventy-three years old. The Sociedad received the grant for their plan to promote conservation and consciousness of the wetlands in Huentelauquén; of the biodiversity of birds in the area; as well as improving the quality of life of the Huentelauquen community.

    In order to accomplish all of these goals, through the funding of the mini-grant, the Sociedad was able to organize four different activities, which invited different members of the community to participate.

    To promote consciousness of the wetlands and of the beauty of the region, with the help of artists and community members they created five different murals in the town. Community participation in this activity was essential: children, parents, school teachers, and the general public came together to give life to their town through the murals. It was truly amazing!

    To aid conservation in an active manner there was an organized event to clean the entrance of the town and the Gruta Virgen plaza. People came together to clean the areas and some members of the community lent their machinery and trucks to facilitate the activity, which was a great feat for them.

    There was also an amazing photography competition, which inspired artistic, communitarian and scientific participation. The competition invited professional photographers as well as amateurs with their cellphone cameras to photograph birds from the area. There were 79 entries in total, which was an amazing result considering Huentelauquen has less than 800 inhabitats. The entries showed birds from all over the area and the best photos were publicized in the Sociedad’s Facebook page.

    Lastly, they invited the whole community to go bird watching and to report the birds that they saw. Like the many other activities, this was very important. This reporting contributed to the knowledge about the bird species in the area, particularly what birds are in the Southern Hemisphere during the summer.

    The Sociedad Huentelauquén Medioambiente accomplished many wonderful things with their community through the funding of the mini-grant. Their efforts truly show the impact they have created in their local environment, in the birds that reside in the area, and in the community of the gorgeous north of Chile. Congratulations for accomplishing so many astonishing things, and thank you for inspiring a large part of the local community to participate in the conservation and the bird watching of the region!

    (If you are interested in looking at the report of the bird watching and to learn more about the organization, you can read their full report by clicking here. Unfortunately it is only in Spanish.)

    This page was created by Vanessa Navarro Rodriguez.

  • Ecopil Arte Crea Conciencia: Tutubixis del Mezquital

    Ecopil Arte Crea Concincia AC is a non-governmental Mexican organization that promotes sustainable, community-based development. Through their programs, Ecopil aims to create positive impacts on people’s quality of life, the environment and on the local economy. They also strongly promote science, technology, and community participation. Citizen science is one of the many wonderful tools Ecopil uses to connect its participants to the objectives and programs of the organization. One of their most successful outdoor programs is Tutubixis de Mezquital—an all age group of birdwatchers from Apaxco, Mexico, who go outdoors and enjoy watching birds and other beautiful wildlife. This group is an amazing example of terrific active bird citizen scientists from the community!

    The members of Tutubixis del Mezquital are birdwatchers of all levels; some of them have passionately been bird watching for a long time, while others have just begun. This diversity in knowledge has allowed for a tremendous growth in the club, which has made them short in binoculars. Thanks to Celestron’s kind donation, Celebrate Urban Birds was able to send Tutubixis binoculars! Tutubixis members were so delighted to receive these gifts that they shared beautiful photos showing off their new binoculars during a recent excursion, as well as a lovely thank you video.

    Check out some of their amazing photos in this gallery:

    Watch their lovely thank you video below:

    If you would like to know more about Ecopil Arte Crea Concincia AC you can visit their Facebook page by clicking here.

    Page by: Vanessa Navarro Rodriguez

  • Volando por la Peninsula

    After months of planning and coordinating with a wide range of organizations from the Yucatan Peninsula, the “Volando por la Península” festival was a complete success! The event was organized by the GreenJay Mayan Birding Club; and it would have not been possible without the time and passion for birds and community by them and the other regional organizations. The festival lasted two days and it brought together bird experts as well as people learning about birds for the very first time.

    During the first day, the activities took place in the Planetario Ka’Yok’ in Cancun (Mexico), which hosted all sorts of fun and interactive activities for people of all ages. The planetarium brought together kids who had never been to it before and kids who attended it regularly. “Volando por la Peninsula” made an active effort to include underserved kids—the event provided breakfast for one-hundred children. The festival also attracted people from all over the Yucatan Peninsula, even people who came from outside of Mexico! For instance, a group of birdwatchers and ecotourism guides traveled from Guatemala for almost twenty hours by land to attend the event in Cancun. More than 500 people with diverse backgrounds, but who shared a passion and love for their communities and environment, showed up at the planetarium to be part of the event. It was fantastic to see so many happy faces brought together by the love of birds!

    At the planetarium participants had the chance to engage in a variety of bird-related activities, such as a photography exhibit put on by the Red de Monitores Comunitarios “Mayan Jays” and a story telling session. More interactive activities for kids and adults took place through out the day origami, drawing and painting, and even planting. Palo de Rosa (Tabebuia rosea), Ramón (Brosimum alicastrum), Ciricote (Cordia dodecandra), and aguacate (Persea Americana) were planted around the planetarium to provide food and shelter for local birds and other forms of wildlife.

    Local organizations were also able to share their beautiful handcrafts, delicious traditional food, and interesting presentations about the relevance of birds and conservation in the region. The organizations involved in the festival promoted community-based actions to protect birds, the cultural roots of the community, and the natural beauty of the region in many fun and exciting ways.

    One of the most impressive activities at the planetarium was the inauguration of the collective mural by Colectivo Inlakech and Brocha gorda, directed by the Mexican muralist Victor Puga. The permanent indoor mural was painted with beautiful colors on the planetarium walls. The impressive artwork shows the connections between local birds, Mayan culture, nature, planet earth and the universe. Time is also symbolically represented in the background, which shows the visible constellations from the peninsula during the four seasons of the year.

    The kids who attended the event were not left behind, and with the help of the artists they created a mural outside the planeterium full of colors and birds native to the peninsula. They were enthusiastic and worked together to create a beautiful work of art!

    Even with all of the amazing activities that occurred on the first day, the second day was not short of wonders. Almost one hundred birdwatchers of all levels, from different communities from Yucatan and elsewhere, gathered at sunrise in the Toh Nature Reserve to go on a gigantic bird watching excursion. This brought people together to teach each other and be marveled by the beautiful native birds and the many nests found along the gorgeous and diverse nature trails. The birdwatchers were able to take beautiful photos and learn about the many different bird species they watched.

    After the excursion, participants enjoyed a delicious brunch of traditional dishes in the reserve. Recognition diplomas, awards and beautiful festival t-shirts were distributed amongst the participants to remember the remarkable weekend.

    The festival “Volando por la Peninsula” was beautifully executed and it was an amazing way of bringing people together to enjoy bird watching, learning about birds and about the relevance of community involvement and actions for successful conservation programs in the Yucatán Peninsula. The organizers also created a wonderful short video to celebrate the festival. You can watch it at:

    A special thanks to the organizations that made this possible: GreenJay Mayan Birding, Amigos de Isla Contoy, Ka’Yok Planetario de Cancún, Red de Monitoreo Comunitario Mayan Jays, CONABIO PAU: Programa de Aves Urbanas , Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Amigos de Sian Ka’an, Maya Ka’an, Programa de Aves Urbanas, Reserva Toh A.C., Colectivo Inlakech, Brocha Gorda, Brown Jay Mayan Birding, Coonil Birding Club, Semilleros de Alas Campeche, Cozumel Birding Club, Club de Observadores de aves Dzibaban, Club de observación de aves Tata´k Che´i, Trogons Birding Club, Peten Birders Club, Festival de las Aves de Campeche, Aves de la Laguna , Festival Alas de Sisal, Festival de las Aves de Cozumel, Mul K´ab, Fundación de Parques y Museos de Cozumel, Jóvenes por la Conservación.
    (Most of the links are only available in Spanish).

    Photos are courtesy of Green Jay Mayan Birding Club and Marta del Campo. The festival’s logo was designed and created by Ana María Savarino.

    Page by: Vanessa Navarro Rodriguez

  • First Bird Festival in San Luis Potosi, Mexico!

    Have you ever heard of the park Tangamanga located in the Mexican city San Luis Potosi? It’s a beautiful and enormous urban park! The Tangamanga park has an incredible diversity of plants and animals, and of course, it has many wonderful birds for watching and enjoying. Thanks to the fanstastic collaboration of the organization Alianza Mexicana por la Conservación de la Vida Silvestre A.C., it was posible to have the First Potosino Bird Festival at the park Tangamanga.

    photo © Alfonso Robledo
    The Alianza organizers did an excellent job for months, planning activities locally, recruiting volunteers, inviting other organizations to join the event and coordinating with local schools and transportation for hundreds of children, so that they could get to the event from the peripheral neighborhoods of the city.

    During the activities, participants had the opportunity to watch and identify local birds thanks to volunteer guides –mainly university students,– adopt native shrubs

    photo © Alfonso Robledo
    and trees to plant in their yards at home, and enjoy a fun bird drawing and painting challenge about the birds they watched at the park earlier that day.

    Children and adults enjoyed the time outdoors in contact with nature and discovering the birds that many participants had not noticed before in their own city. The help of volunteers was of particular importance in the birdwalks because they showed and pointed out where it was easier to watch birds, and helped with the bird identification.

    photo © Marta del Campo
    Thanks to the participation of the San Luis Potosí’s Department of Ecology and Environmental Management, it was possible to give shrubs and trees for adoption and greening the neighborhoods of the interested children and their families. The children also had the opportunity to learn about local wildlife through fun educational materials, while learning about the environment around them and how to care for it.

    The art challenge for the kids was especially inspiring. Children of different ages drew or painted birds that they watched earlier that day, their favorite birds, the birds they learned about in more detail when they explored the bird field guides and educational materials for the first time, or simply the birds they imagined.

    photo © Marta del Campo
    The children were so happy, while they were also learning about the beautiful plumages and shapes of their local birds!

    During the art activities, children were organized into groups, and within each group, they children themselves chose their favorite artwork to represent them in the final stage of the challenge. What they did not know was that thanks to the local organization Grupo Valoran S.A., each child chosen by his/her own group, received a pair of binoculars as a prize to continue observing and learning about her/his local birds. To make all children happy, they received shirts and caps, which were kindly donated by the organizations Proforestal B.C. and Reysap S.A., and the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources of San Luis Potosi. Many thanks to all the local organizations that made this festival a complete success! Enjoy the following photo gallery of the event!

    Photos by Fernando Santillán, Alfonso Robledo and Marta del Campo.

  • Biological Museum of the Butantan Institute

    The Biological Museum of the Butantan Institute (Museu Biológico do Instituto Butantan), located in the city of São Paulo, Brazil, is one of the Latin-American winners of the 2016 Celebrate Urban Birds mini-grant. This year, the Biological Museum team feels the tremendous commitment of connecting the citizens of São Paulo with the urban birds in their communities. The coordinator of the project states:

    “To develop educational activities in urban spaces for the conservation of avian species is an unmeasurable opportunity to spread environmental awareness and the need to conserve nature.”

    A very true statement indeed! During the months of April and May, the Institute’s Bird Observatory team will unite with community leaders to develop the citizen science project in the city. In each event, educational material, such as posters and mini-guides of local birds and those in the Southeast Atlantic Forest, will be distributed to the participants to help them with bird identification. The team hopes that the use of their materials and bird observations will be used as an example of how science and the general public can join forces to make a difference. In the meantime, they are trying out their bird identification materials in a trial run.

  • Birds, Careers and Conservation Youth Workshop – April 4 and 5, 2016

    Thanks to support from Thomas Cade Funds, on April 4th and 5th, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology hosted a group of youth and their chaperones from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and Minnesota for our Careers and Conservation Workshop. During the workshop the students participated in activities focused on bird banding, the Macaulay Library, bioacoustics, conservation science, citizen science, eBird, arts and design, the Museum of Vertebrates, and much more. The also walked on Sapsucker Woods’ trails and visited the Cornell Campus.

    A highlight of the trip was a night walk in silence through the trails of the sanctuary. Most participants had never seen snow before!

    The workshop brought innumerable, unforgettable experiences for all the participants. The chaperones, who were mostly environmental educators, were also inspired to promote more bird conservation projects and stewardship programs in their communities. It exposed students to new fields of study, and encouraged them to get more involved in conservation projects in their communities back home.

    “Learning first hand about Lab resources, science, and the human side of all the people who work at the Lab inspired me to continue my own conservation efforts.” -Participant

    “First flight, first Ivy League visit, and first workshop and experiences that opened my students’ eyes to many new worlds of opportunity. I really appreciate all you do to connect with our students, empower them and encourage them on their journeys.” – Chaperone

    “I loved the program, not just because of the great variety of information that I learned, but also because it was really fun. I had a great time and I met new people. My favorite part was everything, but especially when we listened to the sounds of nature.” -Participant

    “My interaction with nature permitted me to be more sensitized to the conservation of birds; learning about them and understanding more about their behavior, and their importance on our planet. The new information I was absorbing every day ignited a desire to continue learning about these animals. It was encouraging to know that there are people out there who are concerned about birds’ well-being and are fighting to conserve their habitats and populations.” – Participant

    Article by student intern Laura Pineda-Bermúdez
    Illustration on top by Bartels Science Illustration Intern Chloe Lam
    Photography by Marilú López Fretts

    Celebrate Urban Birds Youth Workshop April 2016 from Marilu Fretts on Vimeo.

  • Neighborhood House of Milwaukee

    How do children learn best? Well, the Neighborhood House of Milwaukee thinks that hands-on experience is the best way! This summer, their program theme is “Summer of Flight,” which will teach children from infancy to the age of 19 about the world of birding, the importance of birds and their conservation. Students will learn how to use binoculars, how to identify common birds in their neighborhood, and learn about the importance of habitat conservation. They will all work to complete two projects – a reflective journal with expressive art and the creation of a mini-bird sanctuary in their neighborhood park. Come back for results on their progress!

  • Raritan Valley YMCA

    Hey there campers! The YMCA camp season will kick off with an Urban Bird event this June! A half day event will take place, where everyone will have the opportunity to go on nature walks, learn craft and gardening, watch videos, and observe a bird caller. And this is just a snap shot of what is to come! The campers will be involved in bird related learning and projects throughout the summer. They will even have the opportunity to meet numerous birds thanks to the Lawerence Brook Watershed Partnership of Milltown, NJ. Don’t miss out on this wonderful event!

  • Heliotrope Elementary

    It is so promising seeing children learn about the world around them. This March, Heliotrope Elementary is hoping to spark an interest in science in its 5th grade students by taking them to the Maywood Riverfront Park to learn about nature! Before this field trip, students will be introduced to ornithology (study of birds) and do research on the birds found in their area. Activities, such as origami and gardening, will help the students’ bird studies later on as they focus on a science project in the park. Come back later to find out how their program went!

  • Semilla Center for Healing and the Arts

    Pollinate, not pollute! Semilla Center for Healing and the Arts is hosting an outreach program, “Pollinate Phillips,” this May! Their mission is plant seeds of hope, beauty, and healing in the Phillips neighborhood of south Minneapolis. This spring they will invite people to workshops to learn how to grow food and flowers, how to do mosaics, photography, and other arts, and finally, how to improve the neighborhood through eating well, exercise, and working with each other. If this sounds like something you will like to participate in, then check back later for more information!

  • Southside Academy

    Hey! Did you know that the Southside Academy is planning an event in May? They want their students, parents, and community to join them in a project that will teach them about their wonderful environment and how they can appreciate birds and nature more! Don’t miss the chance to learn about wild birds and see a live demonstration provided by the Kindred Kingdom. There will be opportunities to bird-watch in their green campus, build a birdhouse and a bird/butterfly garden alongside students!

  • Focus: HOPE

    Attention! Are you listening? Our mini-grant winner, Focus: HOPE is hosting an event this coming July in Detroit, MI! It will include five days of activities within the Focus: HOPE Freedom School summer program, allowing students to learn how they can make a positive difference for birds in their community. Many activities, such as bird observations, art projects, and crafting/ building, will keep these students busy! If you are in the area, go support their efforts at the grand opening celebration of their garden at the end of the program!

  • Friends of Brook Park

    Listen up friends because Friends of Brook Park is hosting an event! The beautiful Brook Park is the ideal location for everyone to learn about urban birds. If you are interested in birdwatching, drawing/painting, gardening, or citizen science, then be sure to join this mini-grant winner in Arpil!

  • Urban Rangers

    Is it a plane? Is it a bird? No, it’s the Urban Rangers celebrating birds! This mini-grant winner will be hosting an event in April in Chelsea, MA. If you want to do nature journaling, bird observations, and building your own feeder while surrounded by Mother Nature, keep an eye out for this event!

  • Anaheim Public Library Bookmobile

    Beep, beep! One of our mini-grant winners, Anaheim Public Library Bookmobile, is organizing an event in March at the Hermosa Village and Miraloma Family Resource Center in Anaheim, CA. The librarians are hoping to provide a fun-filled family program where you read about birds, observe birds, and even create your own bird gardens. More details to come!