The CONABIO‘s Programa de Aves Urbanas (PAU, Urban Bird Program) in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, Mexico received a mini-grant for binoculars from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Optics for the Tropics. These binoculars have been an amazing tool for the organization! Children, youth, and adults in the community all shared the new binoculars which helped them observe and describe their local birds in more detail and with excitement.
The binoculars have been a useful tool in various educational activities throughout the community. Events in schools, botanical gardens, parks, the Tuxtla Gutiérrez Zoo, and the neighboring municipalities (Berriozábal, Chiapa de Corzo, and San Fernando) are all wonderful examples of times when these binoculars were used. These fun and educational activities were carried out in collaboration with many local birdwatching clubs like the Tuxtla Birding Club Observadores de Aves (Tuxtla Birding Club Bird Watchers), Pájaro Cantil, and organizations such as PRONATURA SUR and ZooMAT.
During the local bird observations the participants and leaders make sure to visit easily accessible and representative sites of Tuxtla Gutiérrez. These sites include the Parque Recreativo Joyyo Mayu (Joyyo Mayu Recreational Park), the Zoológico Miguel Álvarez del Toro (ZooMAT, Miguel Álvarez del Toro Zoo), the Parque Nacional Cañón del Sumidero (Sumidero Canyon National Park), the Museo Regional de Chiapas (Regional Museum of Chiapas), the Jardín Botánico Faustino Miranda (Faustino Miranda Botanical Garden), the Calzada de los Hombres Ilustres, the la Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de Chiapas (University of Sciences and Arts of Chiapas), and many others. It was wonderful to guide the groups to each place and discover the beautiful diversity of birds at each site!
The goal of CONABIO‘s Programa de Aves Urbanas is to unite birdwatching clubs to exchange experiences and have access to a greater number of tools like binoculars and field guides so the participants can watch and identify the wonderful birds living in their neighborhoods. Observing birds and being in nature helps many people better understand the birds found in their communities. It also shows the importance of keeping their local environment clean to create safe and healthy homes for the animals that live there. Most of the activities take place around the same time as other bird festivals and environmental events such as the Christmas Count. The Christmas Count is carried out in strategic sites of Tuxtla Gutiérrez and neighboring municipalities such as San Fernando and Chiapa de Corzo. It is such a lovely time when the community gets together to celebrate their local birds. Now, they can watch these beautiful birds in even more detail thanks to the new binoculars!
During the event “Bird Count in Your Community and the Urban Bird Count”, there was a lot of community participation! Parents, children, students, and bird watchers gathered to watch their local birds. It was fantastic to see how the children discovered the beautiful colors and details of the birds in their communities with the support of the binoculars. They were so excited!
In May 2019 the Club de Observadores de Aves de Tuxtla teamed up with CONABIO‘s Programa de Aves Urbanas – PAU Tuxtla Gutiérrez, to celebrate the 3rd Bird Observations in the Parque Joyyo Mayu. This event was held during Global Big Day 2019. So many activities were carried out! Participants enjoyed birdwatching, but also games, handcrafts, face painting, an information desk, photos with mascots, and many other fun activities. This event had the support and participation of various institutions such as the Secretary of Tourism, the Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP, National Commission for Protected Natural Areas), the Museo Zoológico “Cesar Domínguez Flores” (Zoological Museum “Cesar Domínguez Flores”) from ZooMAT and FONCET, and the organizations Tierra Verde AC, Royal Flycatcher Birding Tours, Ya’ax Kuxtaal, Pájaro Cantil, Tivu AC, The Best Dad in the World, and many more. Thank you to all of them!
During the Feria Cultural Infantil del Museo Regional de Chiapas (Children’s Cultural Fair of the Regional Museum of Chiapas), birdwatching activities for preschool and primary children in the community were carried out in collaboration with the Club de Observadores de Aves de Tuxtla. It was exciting to see how amazed the younger children were when observing the behaviors and details of the birds of their community through the binoculars. Their laughs and faces full of wonder were a great joy for everyone to see. It is inspiring to see how binoculars can help connect people to their community and the wonders of their local wildlife, in particular their local birds!
Written by Ashley Calderon, Julia Luna, and Cassandra Nuñez
Photographs provided by PAU Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas.