The story of how Green Jay Mayan Birding got started is a rather beautiful one. The founders of the club, Cecilia Alvarez and Juan Flores, a wife and husband team, spotted a number of vibrantly colored birds flying by their home in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. They were so mesmerized by the beauty of these birds that they could not help but wonder what they were called. They first researched the birds on the internet, as well as paid a visit to a local book store where they bought their first bird guide in hopes of finding the answer they sought. Their answer? Green Jays. Their initial curiosity soon turned into a passion as they continued to observe, discover, and photograph birds in the Yucatan Peninsula. Their passion for birds was contagious, and thanks to their interest and dedication, the Green Jay Mayan Birding Club was founded for the whole community with the goal of promoting a culture of bird watchers of all ages and from all cultural and economic backgrounds.
The Green Jay Mayan Birding Club has had a great impact on the community of the peninsula by promoting on the one hand, the appreciation and the conservation of birds, and on the other hand, by promoting the ecotourism in the peninsula surrounding bird watching. For this reason, the club is impacting the community both socially and economically. Members of the club include housewives, doctors, photographers, students, members of the Mayan community, the elderly, and the list goes on. One of the greatest achievements of the club is that it has managed to bring the diverse people of the Yucatan together in one common goal- to watch and help wild birds. The activities of the club have also generated economic resources that help many. When going on outings, the club supports local businesses by finding places to stay with the locals or hotels of that area, buying local food, and promoting the products, services, and culture of the areas they visit.
Another way of promoting bird watching is by means of photo exhibitions, of which the last was called “Volando por la Península” (Flying along the Peninsula). The exhibit took place in a café that aims to promote local artists. The owner of the café is a member of the club and is just one example of the variety of people that get involved in bird watching with the club. Through the exhibition, Green Jay Mayan Birding is able to reach locals who visit the café and capture their interest and curiosity in the birds of the peninsula.
The influence that Green Jay Mayan Birding has had on the birding community of the Yucatan has been incredible for environmental education and conservation. When the club first got started in 2012, only two birding organizations existed in the region. This number has grown so much since then, that there are currently 17 birding clubs in the Yucatan Peninsula with the same goals as Green Jay Mayan Birding. Since Green Jay Mayan Birding first got started, the number of Mexicans reporting birds in the Yucatan Peninsula has increased by 10%. The rise in the number of people watching birds in the area is significant because it results in the gathering of information on the local bird species, while also creating environmental awareness and more clubs like Green Jay Mayan Birding in other communities. By increasing awareness of the great diversity in bird species that exists in their own backyards and towns, Green Jay Mayan Birding Club has the opportunity to teach the community about the importance of maintaining the habitats of these birds and the significance that this has for the local and global ecology. In times when the effects of global warming and environmental degradation are becoming so evident, it is imperative to want to discover and do more for the local environment and its species, promote, and help the creation and maintenance of habitats that help birds and other living creatures. The Green Jay Mayan Birding Club is a great example of how we can all help our communities and the Earth.
If you wish to know more about the current activities of Green Jay Mayan Birding Club, you can visit their Facebook page.
Photos courtesy of Green Jay Mayan Birding.