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Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

Grand Bahama’s rarest bird highlighted at Conservation Conference in Grenada
By Erika Gates
Aug 14, 2013 - 7:42:16 PM

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Opening Session and ceremony

Dr. Howard Nelson, President of the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB), the largest organization devoted to wildlife conservation in the Caribbean, has described the Society’s 19th international meeting in Grenada a resounding success. The theme of the conference, held recently on the St. George’s University campus on the island of Grenada, was “Bird Conservation in a Changing Climate”.

Dr. Lisa Sorenson, Executive Director of the Society, noted that more than 560 species of birds call the Caribbean region home. She also said that the islands provide a critical habitat for hundreds of long-distance migratory bird species that spend the winter in our forests and wetlands or use them as refueling stops en route to their final destinations in Latin America.

Over 200 delegates from 37 countries attended the meeting from across the Americas, Europe, the Caribbean and the Bahamas. The meeting provided an unparalleled opportunity for sharing of information and dialogue of science, management, education and community outreach and engagement needed  to conserve Caribbean birds and their habitat.

Among the many discussions and workshops throughout the week were a variety of subjects like Effects of Climate Change on Biodiversity Conservation, Invasive Species Eradication, Birding and Nature Tourism with a focus on the development of the “Caribbean Birding Trail”, an unprecedented effort lead by the Society to connect many countries, islands and languages in a seamless interpretive trail attracting visitors through birding, history, culture and birds!

Zeko McKenzie of Grand Bahama presents Taxonomic and Conservation Status of the Bahama Nuthatch

Grand Bahama had hosted this conference in 2011 at Pelican Bay Resort and this year in Grenada our island was in the spotlight once again when Zeko McKenzie from Grand Bahama, a biology teacher at the College of the Bahamas, Northern Campus, Freeport, gave a well-received presentation on the “Taxonomic and Conservation Status of the Bahama Nuthatch” one of the rarest and most threatened birds in the Caribbean, only to be found in the Pine forests of Grand Bahama Island. This bird was widespread in the 70’s but recent surveys which Zeko conducted together with Professor William Hayes of Loma Linda University, Ca., suggest that only a few hundred pairs exist.

Among the many sponsors of the conference were: St. George’s University of Grenada, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, London, The Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots, Berlin, U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, Audubon, Bermuda Audubon Society and Grand Bahama Nature Tours, corporate sponsor of Zeko McKenzie.

Erika Gates – Bird Talk: owner of Kayak Nature Tours (one of the first Eco-Tour businesses in The Bahamas); co-founder of the Ecotourism Association; a published writer; and a Cacique award winner! Her column Bird Talk will enlighten and educate us about birds of The Bahamas, as well as the importance of Ecology. Erika can be reached at gbntours@hotmail.com

The beautiful campus of St. George's University was the conference site

At conference: Erika Gates, Dr. Howard Nelson, President of the Society, Trinidad, Carolyn Wardle, Bahamas Outdoors, Nassau, Zeko McKenzie, Biologist, Grand Bahama, Dr. Lisa Sorenson of Boston University, SCSCB Executive Director

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Bird Talk - Erika Gates
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