Limarí River Wetland Bird Guide: A Citizen Science Project in Northern Chile!

November 30th, 2020
Coquimbo, Chile

After five years of identifying and counting birds in the Limarí River wetland in Northern Chile, a fantastic local team of citizen scientists created a beautiful bird guide to share with the world.

The guide has beautiful bird photos taken by the local team during bird watching outings in the region, plus photos kindly provided by the Macaulay Library. The guide describes the importance of the Limarí River wetland and shows why it is a natural area to protect. There are useful tips on how to care for the wetland and go birdwatching. The community members who created the guide hope it will inspire everyone to explore the beautiful natural areas around the Limarí River and discover its wonderful birds. Their shared love for nature and birds helped the local team grow into a family. Together, with the support of CEAZA (Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Áridas, Center for Advanced Studies in Arid Zones), Cetro Cultural Libertad (Freedom Cultural Center), and other regional and national organizations and institutions, they created this amazing bird guide with 87 unique bird species found in the Limarí River wetland!

Click here or on the image below to download the bird guide!

Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods during the year. These areas are homes to special plants, animals, and other forms of wildlife. In arid regions, like in Northern Chile, wetlands are key to the survival of many wild animals and plants. The Limarí River wetland is no exception. Its special beauty and charming birds attracted the team members to visit and enjoy its wonders. The numbers and kinds of birds they recorded during their outings helped them to develop the bird guide, which they hope will help protect the wetland for future generations to come. What an inspiring community’s citizen science project! Team member, Kaay Alcayaga, said:

“The wetland has become an important place to me. One can connect with nature, disconnect from the city, and talk to volunteers… I now know how to respect nature better, respect living beings, the quiet, observing, and taking a step back.”

  • Team members waiting to observe the birds. Photo by Paloma Núñez.

CEAZA has dedicated itself to organizing and implementing various activities related to coastal wetlands and citizen science. This time, CEAZA’s staff helped the team become a reality. Even though the first team members were mostly scientists, the group grew quickly to include students, farmers, and people from different backgrounds in the region. The team members frequently chat on WhatsApp to plan the next trip to the wetland or share photos and videos from their trips. There are many chances to make new friends who love exploring nature and observing birds, too! Bastián Riveros Flores said:

“I visited areas I would not have known of if it wasn’t for this [team]. I also learned how to improve my socialization by interacting with the other people in the team. A wonderful community has grown. I honestly feel so comfortable next to these amazing people who I like to think of as family.” 

  • The table used to count the birds in the area. Photo by Paloma Núñez.

With the arrival of COVID-19, it is more important than ever to find some time to safely disconnect and spend time birdwatching. To those who want to be a part of a citizen science project like this one, it’s important to think about the lasting benefits. Team member, Camila Andrade, said:

“Please feel encouraged to enter this world that teaches us many life lessons and values… The planet has endless connections, and through science, we learn that nature is more than wise. Birdwatching changes your worldview. Birds are so important, and we must protect and care for their spaces.”

  • When the team visited the Caleta El Toro community near the wetland to share about local birds. Photo by Salvador Velásquez-Contreras.

The team is now planning the future of their citizen science project. They want to share the bird guide and information about the Limarí River wetland with as many people as they can. Their goal is to go to local schools near the wetland, organize educational activities, and share the guide and wetlands’ information with students and teachers. The team is convinced that people living near the wetland should feel that this wetland is theirs to protect and enjoy. The guide will help make bird watching easier and more exciting for people of all ages. The beautiful photos and wetland’s information on the bird guide will ensure each trip is a fun learning experience for everyone.

We can’t wait to see what comes next in these birders’ journeys at The Limarí River wetland in Chile.

Click here to read more inspiring quotes by the citizen science project members!

We would like to thank Paloma Núñez, Salvador Velásquez-Contreras, Jorge Velásquez-Contreras, Viviana Salgado Araya, Bastián Riveros-Flores, José Luis Rojas-Rojas, Camila Andrade, Jorge Alonso Castro, Victor Bravo, and Kaay Alcayaga, for taking their time to share their testimonials, views, and dreams. We would also like to thank the Macaulay Library for providing beautiful photos to create the bird guide. This team will make an important positive impact for the birds and wetlands’ conservation in the region!

The Limarí River wetland. Photo by Victor Bravo.

Written by Claudia Blanco.

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