Under the amazing guidance of the community leader Wilians Alberto Gámez Suazo and with the enthusiastic engagement of students and their families, the “First Festival for the Birds of Marcala” was a total success! The participants came from schools of the Llano Largo community in the Municipality of Marcala, La Paz, Honduras, to learn more and enjoy the birds of their region. The Gladis Aurora López school (Llano Largo Community), Guadalupe Contreras school (Pueblo Viejo Community), Héctor Argueta school (Chusmuy Community) and Guadalupe Pérez school (Marcala Board Community) all attended the festival. The festival was in part supported by a Celebrate Urban Birds mini-grant of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Club de Observación de Aves Jilgueros de Marcala (The Goldfinch Birdwatching Club of Marcala) and the Asociación Hondureña de Ornitología (ASHO) (Honduran Ornithology Association). The Municipal Mayor, Rigoberto Hernández Villatoro and the Productoras libres de Marcala Aprolma “APROLMA” (The Free Producers of Marcala Aprolma), a group of women who make organic coffee with just prices, were also a huge factor in making the event such a success!
During the festival there were many educational and entertaining bird conservation activities. Children, teachers of the schools, families and members of the community all happily joined the fun activities! The festival started with a bird walk outside the participants’ neighborhood. They were so excited! Members of the Club de Observación de Aves Jilgueros de Marcala and the community leader, Wilians Alberto Gámez Suazo spoke to the students about how binoculars or mobile phones can be used as tools to observe surrounding birds. This helped members to differentiate different types of birds and identify their local birds. The students were in awe of the bird’s beautiful colors and unique behaviors.
After the walk the leaders gave the students an introductory talk. They discussed the importance of protecting and conserving the birds of their community. In the workshop “Birds of Marcala and my community” participants discussed birds and how frequently they see them around their schools or homes. During the workshop, students differentiated between the scientific and common names of their local birds as well as learning some of the specific body parts of birds. This helped them identify different birds during their observations. At the end of the workshop the students were excited to go out and use their new skills to observe the birds in their community.
There was also a group activity! Event leaders talked about the online resources that participants can use to learn more about birds and to report their bird observations. One application they explored was ebird, where participants keep track of their bird observations. They also discovered that they could help by joining global and regional citizen science projects. The students loved knowing that their observations would help scientists protect their local birds. They realized that they have a lot of power to support efforts to protect birds and their habitats. Everyone can collect scientific data and be part of conservation projects with actions as simple as reporting where and when they see birds.
The arts were a critical part of the festival! The children drew their favorite birds and made their own bird masks based on the birds they saw during the early walk. The students also enjoyed examining the bird masks their classmates created. An exhibition of murals was wonderful!
The final phase of the festival included a performance by a group. The young actors dressed as adults, including wearing a mustache to give the full effect of being an adult! In the play the children showed that slingshots bother and harm birds, and their use must be stopped. Next there was a drama between two Great-tailed Grackles, a female and a male. This play brought laughter and enjoyment from the audience. The audience was amazed by the black feathers worn by the actors. It was a wonderful scene! Participants also enjoyed poems about birds, their colors, behaviors and their wonderful surroundings. The song Gavilán Pollero by Pedro Infante was also sung. The children went home committed to joining the effort to conserve local birds and their habitats. It was an amazing event!
To watch a short video of the participants observing their local birds click, here!