Finding Peace During Stressful Times

During these unprecedented stressful times, our priority is to stay safe and healthy. Although numerous studies tell us about the positive effects that contact with nature has on our health, this might not be an option for everyone. But, with some creativity, and technology, we may be able to bring a bit of nature to our homes.

Pigeons on the window Image ID:104766431 Copyright: Aprilante https://www.shutterstock.com

If you are staying at home, and you have the option to watch birds through your window, this could help release some stress while staying safe.

If you are in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Panama or Puerto Rico, Celebrate Urban Birds (celebrateurbanbirds.org/learn/birds/fs/) offers an online guide to birds in your community. We also have inspiring resources free of charge that can help bring a little calm during stressful times.

Bird Academy Play Lab offer games that explore flight, song, dance, feathers, and more.

If you have children staying at home, you could enjoy fun activities from Bird Academy (academy.allaboutbirds.org/) where we have interesting videos and learning games that will make the time spent indoors at home more enjoyable and close to nature. All “About Fancy Males” (academy.allaboutbirds.org/features/fancymales/fancy-males)  and “All About Bird Song” (academy.allaboutbirds.org/features/birdsong/songbirds-in-action) are my nephew and niece’s favorites!

Macaulay Library (macaulaylibrary.org/), with over 17,675,846 photos, audio and videos of birds and other animals shared by people like you, offers a great way to explore bird species and takes you on a fantastic birdwatching journey all around the world while staying safe at home.

Macaulay Library is a scientific archive for research, education, and conservation, powered by people like you who share their sightings.

In addition, you can always download Merlin (https://merlin.allaboutbirds.org/) to help you identify those elusive birds that you see out your window.

If you spot any exciting birds from your windows, share them with us! And more than anything, stay safe, wash your hands and enjoy each day as much as you can!

The CUBs Team!

"Each morning I wake up to the birdsongs of the Northern Mockingbird and the Northern Cardinal in the trees behind my backyard. After 7:30 they are replaced by the road construction work sounds behind the trees." Photo by Carlos Figueroa. (Photo © ©Carlos Figueroa)

A Bird Celebration REVOLUTION is Happening Right Now in the Amazon

1000+ students from 26 remote Amazon rainforest communities participated in the first ever bird festivals in the Peruvian department of Loreto from September 9th to the 13th. They awoke early to travel to neighboring communities along the Amazon rivers, well prepared to present elaborate performances related to bird conservation.

These activities have gained momentum since 2017 such that a kind of revolution is building. It’s a celebrative kind, raising spirits and enhancing their cultural arts. Children are showing excitement for the natural world, and their parents are following suit. It’s in good time; Peru has been listed as the world’s best country for bird watching, and is second worldwide for most species of birds registered. Most importantly, these activities are showing concrete increases in bird conservation.

Thousands of students in K-12 have become involved in this movement over the past several years. Their teachers are consistently leading outdoor, project-based classes to inform them of the region’s bird species’ habitat, behavior, nesting, diet, cultural stories, and more. The show-worthy results have included activist theatre, portraying stories of birds fighting to retake their habitat after being encroached upon. Other students have nearly mastered drawing finely detailed portraits of the birds, and still others have crafted replica bird nests to explore nest functions. Much of this was shared during these festivals. One high school senior rapped about birds’ beauty and the tragedy of losing them. Another 14-year-old young woman’s dramatic poetry about respecting birds in nature left watchers teary-eyed. Groups of younger students were happy to be included too, sharing well-practiced songs about birds’ beauty. One mother even rose to share an unsolicited folk song about the Blue-gray Tanager.

The impact of this is visible. Children are heard stopping their classmates from killing birds, and their parents are reporting no longer hunting birds in unsustainable ways.

Behind these activities are 250 dedicated teachers, Peruvian NGO CONAPAC, led by Brian Landever, and Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s citizen science project Celebrate Urban Birds, represented by Karen A. Purcell and Marilú López Fretts. They have been co-creating training workshops each year since 2017, resulting in dozens of dynamic lesson plans, materials, communication methods, and culturally embedded evaluations all focused on keeping enthusiasm strong.

The people in this region are strong, accustomed to the intense Amazon sun, and mainly fish and grow crops for sustenance. Children and adults cheerfully play sports every afternoon, and couples help one another with fishing. Their music with flutes, drums, and rattles, their regional dances related to animals, and their stories about the meanings behind bird encounters are just a few aspects of the people’s rich culture. Their homes may not have electricity or running water, and they be over 100 kilometers from the closest city, but the warmth and comfort they have amongst one another in communities makes international visitors appreciate coming here, and has many returning frequently. Still, until recently, the forest was not commonly explored for leisure; entering only when hunting was the priority. That’s all changing now. Now, there’s a greater awareness of how the birds are important to the environment, developing the people’s pride they have for their home.

These perspectives were inquired into more closely in open conversations about this effort following each morning’s presentations. These discussions amongst parents, community authorities, students, and teachers with Karen Purcell of CLO are building understanding of the movement’s impact on people’s lives and environment. New, exciting initiatives were also shared, including long trails, or “senderos,” complete with benches and gazebos, built by parents for children to birdwatch in the forest, building their understanding of how birds live in nature.

In 2017, the first ornithology training workshop was held for teachers from these rural communities. Karen, Marilú, and the “Celebrate Birds” citizen science team, began co-developing materials, and an engaging, fun, culturally sensitive educational program focused on bird conservation was launched.

In 2018, teachers began notably increasing their involvement following bi-monthly meetings with the CLO team. The large WhatsApp group began to receive hundreds of photos posted weekly by the teachers, excited to share their progress, in turn motivating one another.

In early 2019, there was no doubt that the program had matured when students presented unsolicited, elaborate skits and dances related to bird conservation during CONAPAC’s visits to their communities. Thousands of photos of class developments began to fill the WhatsApp group monthly, and the program supporters, JBQ Charitable Foundation and the Amazon Binocular Project, have stated they could not have used their donations in a better manner.

When the last workshop was held in June 2019, at Explorama’s lodges, located on the Amazon and Napo rivers, the teachers themselves opened the event. They had prepared creative songs, photo-realistic sketches of birds, and enthusiastic presentations of what they had accomplished to date with their students. The entire week was festive, productive, and further prepared the teachers with strong class curriculum. CONAPAC’s footage of these classes on its YouTube channel effectively capture the enthusiasm of these events. The students in turn are receiving motivated class sessions and can see that they have become part of something that is expanding, and being appreciated worldwide. The culmination of this, with the recent five bird festivals, has surpassed everyone’s expectations.

  • Isla Tamanco, Amazonía Peruana. Viernes, 13 de septiembre, de 2019. Marilu Lopez Fretts

At this time of writing, thorough, co-created program evaluations are being led by CLO that will analyze the progress made. The classes continue regularly, and bird clubs are meeting regularly amongst the most interested students from each community. Eight birdwatching trails have been developed, and more are being planned. The first community-led bird festival in Loreto was on October 30th, uniting 11 communities and more than 600 people.

The potential for this program to have a positive environmental and social impact is clear. As it gains more attention in Peru and internationally, it will add momentum to the global movement to respect and conserve the Amazon rainforest. For bird appreciators, incorporating ongoing citizen science data from students and community members will expand the database of birds from this region on Cornell’s ebird.com. If the Peruvian board of education replicates the training and materials in other areas of Peru, the impact would multiply tremendously, further fueling the country’s strong efforts to be a prime tourist destination. If more bird festivals occur, celebrating birds could become a proud new tradition. Nonetheless, what has happened over the past three years has given unforgettable, enjoyable memories to thousands of children in Peru, empowering them with activities that contribute to the wellness of the Amazon rainforest and the planet overall.

Article by Brian Landever.
Brian Landever is Director of Conapac, devoted to conservation and community development, in Iquitos, Peru.

2019 Mini-Grants Available

It is the end of the year and with it comes the opportunity to apply for the 2019 Celebrate Urban Birds Mini-Grants! We can’t wait to see the incredible projects that will be proposed to connect communities with nature, birds, arts, and citizen science!

All mini-grant applicants are offered free Celebrate Urban Birds Kits and training to support their events (even if their proposals are not funded). Organizations working with underserved communities are strongly encouraged to apply. No experience with birding is needed. Mini-grants range from $100 to $750.

Here are the requirements for your proposed program, festival, or event:

  • It must take place within 2019
  • The funds can only go to organizations (not to individuals)
  • The Celebrate Urban Birds 10-minute citizen science observation must be included
  • It must incorporate greening or habitat improvement activities
  • The arts should be integrated in a meaningful and authentic manner

We love out-of-the-box ideas! We encourage businesses, hospitals, healthcare organizations, senior centers, and community centers to apply. In the past, we’ve offered mini-grants to an ice-cream shop that gave coupons to customers who collected data and planted bird-friendly flowers; an oncology center that encouraged patients to collect data while they waited for appointments; a courthouse that offered outdoor programming for children waiting for their parents; a theater troupe that connected inner-city youth with nature; a day habilitation program that combined community work, gardening, birdwatching, and the arts; and many youth-led community greening projects.

We will share selected mini-grant projects broadly to inspire others to organize events in their communities.

Our application is simple and straightforward. You don’t need to know anything about writing grant proposals to apply. Simply answer our questions about what you plan to do, where, when, and with whom.

We will be accepting applications through December 31, 2018.

To apply now, click on the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/minigrant2019

Explore the gallery of wonderful past events on our website!

  • Milpa Alta, Mexico

Birds, Careers and Conservation Workshop Summer 2018

 

Thanks to the support of Thomas Cade Funds, 23 participants were awarded scholarships to attend a two day intensive workshop, titled Birds, Careers and Conservation.  The program took place on August 7th and 8th, 2018 and was hosted by the Celebrate Urban Birds program at Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The aim of this annual program is to bring youth from underserved communities that are not represented in the sciences to learn more about research here at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Outstanding youth from across the United States are selected to attend each year based on their interest in learning about careers in science and conservation with the goal of positively impacting their communities.  During the workshop participants (aged between 14-21 years of age) learn about Cornell, explore the values of participatory science, critical thinking, art, conservation, and paths to higher education.

During the two-day workshop staff from seven departments at the Cornell Lab shared their expertise and time. The students participated in activities such as bird banding, nature journaling, nature walks and specimen illustration.

Scientists at the lab spoke about their fields of research such as participatory approaches to conservation, bioacoustics  and citizen science projects.  They toured and actively used the Macaulay Library and learned about scientific illustration at the Museum of Vertebrates. The participants had many opportunities to have their questions answered and to interact with all equipment and resources available at the lab.

In addition to being immersed in the work being done here, the students and chaperones visited the Cornell campus and participated in sessions where they created action plans for their future.  Our goal was to help these young aspiring leaders to see themselves in the field of science and conservation.

2018 Birds, Careers and Conservation Youth Workshop from Celebrate Urban Birds on Vimeo.

It was clear that the students learned so much from the experience.

“Thank you so much for this wonderful experience. Your lab is truly amazing and it was an honor to be there.  Not only did our knowledge grow but so did our respect for birds.” – Participant

“Thank you so much for the the amazing opportunity.  It was such a pleasure to even be invited to Cornell.  We all had such a great time and learned so much!  I didn’t know birds could be so interesting.  Thanks again!” – Participant

“..it has been such a fantastic opportunity to meet all of the incredible and smart individuals at the Lab….” – Participant

Celebrate Urban Birds workshops would not be possible without the help of staff from every department of the Cornell Lab and we are enormously thankful to all participants, chaperones, and presenters.

We are looking forward to our next Birds, Careers and Conservation Workshop in November 2018!

(Photo © MLF Photography)

 

 

 

List of Resources in Spanish!

Free Downloads of Resources in Spanish

Have you ever wondered where you could find educational material about birds and citizen science in Spanish?  Do you need materials that people of all ages and areas can easily understand? We have compiled a list of links to free resources with descriptions of what each link offers. We hope this is useful for you and your participants.

1) Celebrate Urban Birds

Celebrate Urban Birds is a citizen science project founded in 2007. Anyone from any country can participate in Celebrate Urban Birds. You can participate at any time of the year and you do not need to know about birds. The goal of this project is to integrate people of all ages and regions in bird citizen science and to create awareness about birds, habitat and conservation. We are actively creating materials from different countries and regions. All materials are available for free download. Below you will find our materials for the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Peruvian Amazon region.

a) United States and Canada:

i. A beautifully illustrated bird guide showing 16 focal bird species. Also included are magnificent illustrations some common Hummingbirds of North America. To view the guide, click here!

ii. A sheet describing the celebrate Urban Birds citizen science project. This includes a form you can use to enter your bird observations and a poster of the silhouettes of the 16 focal bird species. Click here!

iii. A list of the 16 species with beautiful pictures and space to note the number of times the bird was seen. Available in Spanish and English. Click here!

b) Mexico:

i. A bird guide with 16 focal bird species. The guide includes beautiful pictures of the birds, distribution maps, and interesting facts about their behavior and habitat. Click here!

ii. A sheet to record observations of the birds. This sheet also includes close-up photos of the birds with the silhouettes of the 16 focal species and a brief description of the Celebrate Urban Birds in Mexico project! Click here!

c) Peruvian Amazon Region:
(Photo © CUBS)

Download the materials used in the Celebrate Birds kit for the Peruvian Amazon Region (Currículo de Educación Ambiental para La Amazonia Peruana)! The kit includes tips on how to observe the 16 focal species in the Peruvian Amazon Region as well as a table to jot down your bird observations. There is also a helpful poster that contain silhouettes of the 16 focal species and tips on where to observe them. The Environmental Education Activity Guide for the Peruvian Amazon Region, contains interesting activities you can use if you’re from the region. If you are not located in the region, the Activity Guide is adaptable to different regions and educational interests. It also has information and activities about nesting as well as an entire section about citizen science so that you and your participants can begin your own project!

i. To download the bird observation table with tips on how to observe the 16 focal species, and the bird silhouettes poster, click here!

ii. To download the 16 focal species guide with information about the focal species of this project, map distributions, and cool facts about their behavior and ecology, click here!

(Photo © CUBS)
iii.  The Environmental Education Activity Guide for the Peruvian Amazon Region: This activity guide is for informal or formal educators who are passionate in motivating, teaching and inspiring their participants to get involved in environmental conservation. The activity guide is designed with simple lesson plans that contain fun activities about the focal bird species in the Peruvian Amazon region. Through the monthly lesson plans, we hope students become interested in conserving their local birds and participating in citizen science through bird observation. This activity guide pairs well with the Peru kit. To download this guide click here!

To know more about the nests of the 16 focal species click here!

2) Bird Sleuth International Educational Curricula and Supporting Materials for Educators 

BirdSleuth International and World of Birds Curricula

BirdSleuth International is an environmental education curriculum to expand the information children receive about science and the environment. This is accomplished through learning about birds. The curriculum includes 10 lessons with fun and educational activities for children. Both the curriculum and supporting materials can be downloaded. The summary of the curriculum World of Birds does not need any additional materials and is also available to download. To download any of the materials you first need to complete a quick form. Click here to go to the form which will redirect you to the materials once you finish.

3) Manuals

Guide to Birds in Mexico City and its Surroundings

If you find yourself in Mexico City or its surroundings and need an easy-to-carry guide of the most common birds in Mexico City, this is the guide for you! It is very easy to use, has beautiful images, essential information, and interesting facts about Mexican birds. This guide was sponsored by CONABIO (Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad or The National Commision for the Awareness and use of Biodiversity). You can download the free guide by clicking here.

4) How to use eBird in Chile Guide
(Photo © ROC)

Download this practical guide on how to use eBird in Chile created by the leaders of the Red Observadores de Aves de Chile (ROC). You will find detailed explanations of eBird, how to use, how to enter your bird observations, and so much more! Although this guide was written users of eBird Chile it is useful for any person who wishes to learn more about eBird. Just make sure to enter the portal that corresponds to your geographic location. Download the eBird in Chile guide here!

5) Bird in Mexico: List of Bird Species and their Common Names 2015

Explore the most recent list of Mexican bird species and their common names. You can download the full publication here.

6) Free Book Download: Hummingbirds in Mexico and North America 
(Photo © Colíbres de México y Norteamérica)

Download this amazing bilingual book about Hummingbirds in Mexico and North America written by María del Coro Arizmendí and Humberto Berlanga. This book is excellent for people who want to learn more about hummingbirds. The book discusses hummingbird anatomy, diet, reproduction, migration, ecological relevance, and so much more! This book was sponsored by CONABIO (Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad or National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity) and the UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México or National Autonomous University of Mexico) in Mexico. Download this complete book for free by clicking here! It can be slow to fully appear online, so please be patient!