Helping the birds of Belize!

May 1st – June 30th, 2019
St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park Area, Belize

The Belize Audubon Society is an organization dedicated to the conservation of the natural environment and native birds of Belize. Thanks to the support of mini-grant from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology the Belize Audubon Society was able to hold educational events about birds and environmental care in two communities near the National Park of St. Herman’s Blue Hole (SHBHNP) in an area protected by Belize Audubon Society.

There are currently two bird clubs for youth near the St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park. To help support efforts to conserve birds and their habitats the Belize Audubon Society organized a meeting with club members to discuss ideas about observing birds in their communities. After the presentation members of the clubs and people of the community put their new skills to use! Thanks to the Belize Audubon Society, participants were able to use binoculars and spotting scopes to see the details of the birds they were observing. The children who participated in this activity were especially excited to use binoculars and learn about the birds that reside in their area. It was fantastic!

Club members also learned about the importance of citizen science as well as how they could enter their bird observation data in eBird. The children were thrilled to learn that they could be part of scientific discovery by sharing their observations of the birds in their communities. It was exciting!

The Belize Audubon Society used online materials and resources from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in their presentation. The children used the shortlist of the focal birds of Belize. The wonderful illustrations helped the children identify their native birds. The booklet included some additional activities like drawing their favorite bird and identifying specific bird parts. These activities helped the children learn and think about the importance of their local birds and the roles they have in nature.

Discovering Birds in St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park (SHBHNP)

In addition to the workshops for children, the Belize Audubon Society also organized a community event called “Discovering birds in SHBHNP”. In this event, parents, teachers, and children went outdoors to learn more about the birds of Belize. They talked about the reasons why birds are important for the environment and society. Participants really enjoyed learning in the outdoors!

After a pleasant walk to observe birds, the participants heard stories about birds through puppets of the Lesson’s motmot (Momotus lessonii) and the Yellow-headed Parrot (Amazona oratrix). Thanks to these characters the threats that birds face during migration, as well as the important roles birds have in nature, were discussed.

All participants were invited to take part in a painting workshop! They learned techniques to paint and create beautiful bird paintings. All of the participants also helped draw a mural of a human and a bird silhouette hugging each other. This image was a true testimony of the harmony that should exist between humans and birds, a wonder!

Improving the school’s bird garden

The final project was to create a bird garden at St. Margaret Mary School in St. Margaret Village which is located right next to the SHBHNP. The Belize Audubon Society continues to work with teachers and students to keep local gardens clean. This encourages birds and other pollinators to continue to visit the green spaces. The garden has become a true outdoor biology classroom where children learn more about nature and their native birds and see the interactions that occur between a variety of organisms in nature. Students also learned how to plant and care for a garden. Many students enjoyed this project! They loved spending time outside in contact with nature.

The support of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology allowed the Belize Audubon Society to plant more trees and other plants in the school garden. The hope is that these plants will help attract more birds and help in their conservation. The garden has become a magnificent collaboration between the Belize Audubon Society and the school. Working together to protect birds and their habitats has never been so fun and educational!

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