International Migratory Bird Month Celebration on Grand Bahama Island

Erika Gates writes about bird migration for the Bahamas Weekly.

While ongoing threats continue to endanger many of the nearly 350 species of birds that migrate annually between summer and winter habitats in Canada, the United States and the Bahamas as well as throughout the Caribbean and South America, conservation organizations and individuals have shown that they can make a real difference.

Launched in 1993 by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) is now coordinated by Environment for the Americas, based in Boulder, Colorado. IMBD is the largest-known bird conservation and education event of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the innovative Partners in Flight initiative, this year’s IMBD event showcases a poster with the once almost extinct Peregrine Falcon. Grand Bahama Island’s birding community is excited to see this fastest of all birds of prey on the poster as it is frequently observed by local birders on the island during the winter months.

Extinction of the Peregrine Falcon was nearly certain when the impact of DDT insecticides thinned U.S. populations from 4000 individuals to less than 50 pairs in 1975. The Peregrine Fund took action, joined by a band of volunteers, biologists and falconers who nurtured over 5100 young falcons in captivity before releasing them. When the Peregrine Falcon was taken of the endangered species list in 1999, more than 3000 adults had returned to the skies.

During International Migratory Bird Month over 450 colorful and informative festivals, events and programs attract over half a million participants in Canada, the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Central and South America. Hosted by a variety of venues, from bird stores to gardens, museums, nature centers, bird observatories, schools, zoos, state and national parks, the celebration sparks awareness of the critical needs of migrating bird populations fostering environmental stewardship.

While 20 years of effective and successful conservation partnership is certainly worth celebrating, it is only the beginning. Efforts must strengthen and continue as new partners are welcomed into the coalition of those who care about the future of birds in this swiftly-changing world.

On Grand Bahama Island the Garden of the Groves is hosting events relating to IMBD 2010 throughout the month of October. On Saturday, October 16th, a poster exhibit of previous IMBDs will precede a lecture and field trip at the Garden. Erika Gates will speak about ways one can assist migratory birds on their wintering grounds by providing food and water sources, habitat and shelter. Peregrine Falcon Posters of this year’s event will be given away. Birders presenting their checklists with over 50 species will receive the attractive “Birds of the Bahamas” award certificate which is sponsored by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Grand Bahama Nature Tours. The person with the highest score will receive an IMBD 2010 T-shirt picturing the Peregrine Falcon.

During the month of October school classes will be lectured twice weekly on the importance of migratory bird habitat in the Bahamas. Mrs. Marilyn Laing, coordinator of the “Young Naturalist Program” at the Garden of the Groves, will be conducting a brief classroom session followed by a field trip at the Garden where the youngsters will be introduced to birding and the migratory species that make the Garden their home for the winter. The children will also receive free bird tattoos, armbands and educational bird coloring books, specially produced for this year’s event.

The Grand Bahama Birding Group will meet on Saturday, October 2nd and 30th to visit a variety of birding locations to observe and record migratory species that will be making the island their home for the winter or are just passing through to feed and rest before continuing their incredible journey to South America.

For more information, please contact the Garden of the Groves at 374-7778

For the original report go to http://www.thebahamasweekly.com/publish/bird_talk_erika_gates/International_Migratory_Bird_Month_Celebration_on_Grand_Bahama_Island12501.shtml

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