Marcala Birds Festival

Appreciating Birds and Art in Marcala, Honduras

Photo courtesy of Escuelas Protectoras de las Aves de Marcala, Honduras

Honduras is a country with a great wealth of biodiversity. Its birds stand out for their amazing variety, beauty, and harmonic songs. More than 770 bird species find refuge in the farms, towns, and natural areas of Honduras, making it a paradise for bird watchers! The residents of Pueblo Viejo, located in the province of Marcala, have a lot of respect for the birds that live alongside them. They went out to observe, learn about ,and celebrate  the birds in their community, all without invading their habitat.  Five schools have joined together to form a group called TheBird Protection Schools of Marcala. This unioncelebrated the second Marcala Bird Festival to promote passion for birds among children, their families, and the community. The purpose of the Festival was to generate awareness of the different ways in which everyone can help protect the birds and nature of the region. With the support of a mini grant from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, teachers and students were able to share their passion and pride for the birds of their country with their community during the Festival. That’s what you call inspiring!

Art, when combined with nature, can inspire learning while keeping the atmosphere light and fun. Poetry, theater, and dance were just a handful of the activities that brought great joy and information to the children and their families. The teachers and children had spent months preparing the activities, and throughout the process everyone was able to learn more about birds. Their appreciation was deepened for everything from bird movements, finer qualities, details, behaviors and their steadfast presence in the culture of the community and the country. The festival concluded with inspiring words and the students went home briming with excitement, happy to have shared fun experiences with their families and awestruck with the natural wonders and birds of Marcala.

The festival was full of birdwatching activities! It began at dawn with the reception and welcoming of excited students who attend the Guadalupe Contreras School. Not a moment was wasted! They immediately went outside to enjoy the nature that surrounded them. The first activity was a community bird watch in the local coffee farms, green spaces, and the nearby forest. Many beautiful and exciting moments left everyone delighted with the great biodiversity of their homeland. The festival was then inaugurated with a few inspiring words from the organizers. A drawing contest followed with the objective being to draw the birds of their community. Sometimes it is hard to realize the complexity of a living being until you have to draw it in great detail,  and birds are no exception. The fine wings, delicate shapes, and bright colors of the birds posed a great challenge that made all the  participants more appreciative of their beauty. In the end the drawings captured not only the beauty of the birds, but also the emotions of children that drew them.

The detailed observation of the local birds stirred up many questions in the participants, prompting a chat about local birds and their relationship with the environment. It was super informative! Everyone wanted to know how to take better care of the environment to protect the birds and the shared natural spaces.

A discussion was held about the importance of maintaining a healthy habitat for birds and other winged animals such as bats. It’s important to remember that not just birds can fly! All of that learning and observation left our participants quite hungry. A moment was taken to have a snack and chat about what the group just experienced. Afterwards, there was a poster-type mural exhibition where students from each school presented their artwork and knowledge. Sensational!

The bird festival would not have been possible without the support of many people. We thank Wilians Suazo for his loyal support of his community and teachers in the region, the directors of the Marcala Bird Protection Schools, Clelian BautistaCarla López and Silvia Pérez, who gave the space inside the schools for the teachers and students to prepare such a motivating community event. We also thank the teachers and their students for putting their love and dedication into everything they achieved and learned. Thanks to the Association of Free Producers of Marcala(APROLMA) and its director Nidia Hernández, the Honduran Bat Conservation Program and its deputy coordinator Eric Sánchez, the deputy director of the Bilingual Intercultural Education (E.I.B) schools, Nelly Georgina Reyes and finally to the Municipal Directorate of Education Marcala La Paz and its leader Juan Carlos Calix.

Photos curtesy de Escuelas Protectoras de las Aves de Marcala.

Written by Casandra Nuñez