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

Looking back at October's International Migratory Bird Day events
By Erika Gates
Nov 4, 2010 - 7:04:05 PM

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Freeport, Bahamas - During the month of October the Garden of the Groves joined forces with local school teachers and birding enthusiasts to promote public awareness surrounding the incredible phenomenon of bird migration.

Each year millions of birds, representing hundreds of species, travel between North America, the Caribbean, the Bahamas and back. Approximately 350 species of birds that breed in North America migrate each year to spend the winter in Latin America and the Caribbean. As a group they are referred to as Neotropical migratory birds and they include many species of songbirds, hawks, egrets and duck. Additionally a smaller number of species migrate from South America into the Caribbean to breed during the summer. The Caribbean therefore shares these species with North and South America and many spend the greater portion of each year in the Bahamas (up to 9 months annually) compared to the time they spend outside of the region.

The program, lead by the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB) is the third celebration of what is known as International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD). The Society, the largest organization devoted to wildlife conservation in the Caribbean, coordinated and sponsored the month-long events and activities. 

After lecture and field trip at Garden of the Groves, students from Maurice Moore Primary School receive a high quality. educational colouring book featuring 41 beautiful drawings of migratory birds that occur in the Caribbean along with brief text about each species.

During October a number of local schools seized the opportunity to participate in an informative IMBD session, fieldtrip and introduction to birding at Garden of the Groves. These were Grace Christian Academy, Grace Bible School, Calvary Academy, Bishop Michael Eldon School, Maurice Moore School, Growing Years, Alpha & Omega School, St. John Jubilee School, St. Johns Doral Road. Over 300 children were introduced by Mrs. Marilyn Laing, coordinator of the childrens' events, to the amazing journeys that migratory birds take each year.  

There were three exciting events for the adults as well - on October 2nd, 16th and 30th groups of birders were guided by Erika Gates to different locations to observe birds in general with a focus on migratory species in particular. Amongst the over 60 species observed 35 migrants were recorded during the field trips. Mrs. Gates also lectured participants on the amazing routes of migration and how people can contribute to habitat conservation that will continue to allow birds to spend the winter in the Bahamas.

Erika Gates introduces birders to the amazing migratory routes and distances that birds travel each year

Gates remarks: "We, on Grand Bahama play only a small role in the vast effort of bird conservation, however, we are in full support of SCSCB and the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act that was passed by the US Government in 2000". President of SCSCB, Dr. Lisa Sorenson, who has been working in the Bahamas and Caribbean for 25 years as an ecologist and conservation biologist, emphasizes:" Because we are dealing with birds that change the country in which they live twice a year, every year, both local, regional and international partnerships are essential components of any conservation effort." Under the Act matching grants of approximately U.S. 5 million dollars are made available for public and private partnership projects that promote the long-term conservation of Neotropical migratory birds and their habitat.

During IMBD birders surveying beaches on Grand Bahama for migratory shorebirds

Birders receiving certificates "Birds of the Bahamas", sponsored by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Garden of the Groves. Jill Cooper (center) recorded the most species on her "life list" and also received the IMBD 2010 t-shirt

Straw artisan, Mrs. Forbes, got into the IMBD fever and had artist Ivan Reid draw migratory birds onto bags, hats and portfolios that she produces at the Garden of the Groves

Erika Gates  is the 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 or (242) 373-2485

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Bird Talk - Erika Gates
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