Celebrating the birds of El Refilón

The members of the Urban Birds Program of Compostela (PAU Compostela) won a mini-grant sponsored by the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology for organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean. The group is led by their volunteer coordinator Fátima Medina and they collaborated with their local school in the community of El Refilón to organize a series of wonderful activities about birds and their conservation. El Refilón is a small community, rich in natural beauty, located in the municipality of Compostela, Nayarit, México. The community has a population of approximately one hundred people and the Benito Juárez Elementary School has a single teacher, Blanca Ornelas. The goal of the activities is to deliver environmental education  to increase knowledge and protection of native birds in the region. During these activities the children and community members enjoyed talks, games, and positive action for birds in the region. For some of the activities the children of the elementary school joined forces with the Frank Gonzáles of Tepic House for Children in Nayarit, which  increased the positive impact on the children of both groups, their communities and birds in the region. 

Planting for the Birds

One of the most enjoyable activities was the reforestation of native trees in the community. The school children, their teacher, and the school’s parent association joined forces with the volunteers of PAU Compostela in a reforestation effort. They took shovels and tenderly planted saplings that will have a direct and lasting impact on local birds and other animals in the region. The participants were overjoyed of what they had accomplished and proud of their teamwork. Truly spectacular! 

Joining Forces with the Frank Gonzáles of Tepic House for Children in Nayarit

Another workshop, called Friends of Birds, was carried out alongside Benito Juárez Elementary School and the Frank Gonzáles of Tepic House for Children in Nayarit. The resulting workshop was wonderful! The kids received a delicious breakfast and then went out to observe birds with guidance from Fatima Medina and other local bird enthusiasts. To aid in the count and identification of birds every child received an illustrated guide of common birds in the region that had been designed jointly by the wonderful educators of PAU Compostela and the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology. After the group observed finished observing the birds, the teachers and children of The Frank Gonzáles House for Children, donated a bag of seeds and plants that produce pollinating flowers to the Benito Juárez Elementary School for them to plant and grow. This was a truly heartwarming exchange.

Knowledge Rally!

After the seeds were delivered, a “Knowledge Rally” called The Birds of my Community was organized. In this activity the kids put in practice everything they had learned during the last few weeks. The activity consisted of Q&A’s, games, and even a puzzle! All of the activities were centered around the theme of birds, with an emphasis placed on local birds. Finally, a mural titled The Birds of El Refilión was created and dedicated to the birds. El Refilón y has an many beautiful birds. Certain birds that are representative of the local community were included in the mural. The lucky birds were the Black-throated Magpie-Jay (Calocitta colliei) and the Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus). These are birds that the children had seen frequently and they are symbols of this community. In the program’s closing activity prizes were given to the first three places in the Rally activities and certificates of participation were distributed to all the children. Everyone went home  happy  having learned something new from the wonderful activities.

Blanca Ornelas, the elementary school teacher did an amazing job of supporting the program and sharing learning activities with the school children. We also thank the city commissioner of El Refilión (2019-2022) and his committee for their help in facilitating the program. Finally, we appreciate the Urban Birds Program of Tepic, for their support with some of the talks and teaching materials, and the Compostela Fire Brigade for giving one of the talks.

Written by Diego Valle