Birds of My Neighborhood

Professor Edgar Hoyos has been an active member in his community for years. He is known the youths in the community as a great teacher. When Professor Hoyos began to register the birds, he observed in his neighborhood and put pictures up on his wall he did not know that it would be the beginning of a large and inspiring educational journey, and the driving force behind the birth of the youth club, Pájaros de Mi Vereda (Birds of My Neighborhood) in the Ebejico Antioquia, Colombia

Little by little students in Ebejoco’s neighborhoods began to pay more attention to the pictures he had on his wall and started to compare them to the birds they saw while walking to and from school. They would come to professor Hoyos with excitement to tell him about the birds they saw, even some species he had not observed himself. As the student’s interest in birds grew day by day the club Pájaros de mi Vereda, (My neighborhood birds), was born, led by Professor Hoyos alongside Sandy Ramirez, a fantastic teacher at the local school. What started as a personal interest project has grown into the first educational club centered around local birds in that region. 

The Pájaros de mi Vereda is a birdwatching club dedicated to observing and learning about the birds of the region and connecting with the wonderful environment of the region. Students are encouraged to collaborate by sharing the information about the birds that they observe. The students are also connected to science and to professionals in the different areas of Ornithology who are dedicated to studying birds and nature. This opens opportunities for students to get to learn about these professions related to the environment, nature focused tourism, and Ornithology, that they may want to study in the future. 

One of the club’s objectives is to help students identify and discover the wonders of the bird species that inhabit their neighborhood. The students build bonds with the local birds and grow a passion for them and their conservation. They also learn to work together, share, and come together as a community when going on hikes for observations in the local neighborhoods. Many other community members also take part in these events enriching the experience. Friends, families, and even tourists often attend birdwatching events with the club. Family also members enjoy sharing stories about local birds and talking about the beautiful birds they see in their backyards. During some events the club leaves fruit out to attract the birds such as peeled bananas and or cut oranges. They then watch from afar and take pictures as the birds snack on the gifts. The club takes a holistic approach to teaching the students about the environment. One of the most important objectives of the club is to foster a profound connection between the students and nature to be a part of the natural world where they can live in harmony with the local wildlife. 

The 30 youth in Pájaros de mi Vereda, most of whom go to the local rural school, are between 8 and 16 years old. The students are encouraged to register the birds they observe and photograph them to eventually create a book of birds in their region. This bird book allows the students to document what bird species they see and take notes on their behaviors as well as interesting and sweet interactions. Over time the students have a record of their observations and all they have learned about the species that share their neighborhood. The students have meetings with the leaders where they take part in various activities, such as, drawing, writing and reading about their local species, and watching educational videos.

Pájaros de mi Vereda is loved by the entire community, especially the students that have grown up with this club as an important part of their lives. Many of the students who have been a part of the club for a long time are then able to complete their own projects and present them to the group. One student wrote about the goal of her project: “I initiated the activities with the premise that: knowledge will make us better people.”

The students use their curiosity to seek more knowledge about birds and their environment. They look for opportunities to observe birds and ask questions about them. Another student said that she had never paid attention to nature before. However, now as she walks through her neighborhood from school, she looks at the birds, the bees, the insects, the flowers, and the butterflies with joy. 

The group also embarks on various outings that other community members and families can join. The group has explored the Ariv park, Explore park, Santa Fe Medellín Zoo, Joaquín Antonio Uribe Medellín Botanical Gardens, and School of Administration, Finance and Technological Institute, EAFIT University (Escuela de Administración, Finanzas e Instituto Tecnológico).

Pájaros de mi Vereda has brought the attention of over 200 tourists. They love the opportunity to birdwatch with Pájaros de mi Vereda group. Families also join these fun events. This growth in tourism has benefited the economy of the local community, which now awaits the COVID-19 quarantine to finish and attract tourists again.

Pájaros de mi Vereda is respected and admored in the region for its work and dedication to birds and their conservation. They have been recognized by a number of organizations for their great accomplishments with the students. They were recognized as an educational environmental initiative in 2016 and 2017 by the Antioquia Regional Corporation (Corporación Regional de Antioquia). Pájaros de mi Vereda was also recognized and nominated in 2017 and 2018 by the Ebéjico Municipal Council (Consejo Municipal de Ebéjico), and the UMATA Ebejicana. In 2017, the club was recognized by the Ministry of Technological Science and Investigation of Colombia, MINTIC, (Ministerio de Ciencia Tecnología e Investigación de Colombia). In 2020, they were recognized by DEVIMAR (La Concesionaria Desarrollo Via al Mar). Such wonderful accomplishments!