Plataleas Bird Club

Gaining knowledge and taking actions for birds and conservation

The youth members of the Plataleas Bird Club were awarded a mini scholarship by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for Latin American and Caribbean organizations. These youth organized a series of educational activities around birds, participatory science and environmental advocacy in the community of Seybaplaya in Campeche, Mexico. The activities were termed Birds: Awareness and Preservation. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the first activities were carried out virtually for the children and their families. Everyone very much enjoyed learning about the birds in their region through the internet. In this way the Plateleas Bird Club brought some relief to the families affected by the local health situation.  This mainly indigenous community was hit particularly hard by the global pandemic. Cases started decreasing over time, thanks to the community of Campeche and the local health measures that had been put into effect. While taking the necessary health measures the group held some activities in person much to the joy of the children, their families and the members of the Plataleas Bird Club. A local beach clean-up and a birdwatching trip were among some of the activities much to the benefit of the birds and their community.

Little Bird Detectives

The first-grade students of the Mendoza Institute had the pleasure of being a part of a virtual workshop called “Little Bird Detectives”. The objective was to help the kids understand that all living things have a right to exist and it is our responsibility to protect their freedom, preserve their habitats, and to utilize natural resources responsibly. The kids were very curious! The Plataleas Bird Club answered all the questions with encouragement and expertise, exchanging as much information as possible with the children who shared their experiences and perspectives about their local birds. Marvelous! At the end of the online workshop the students played a game where they had to guess the name of birds shown in photos. Two children stood out as being particularly involved in the game and commented that they had seen the vast majority of these birds. Good job! Finally, there was a talk about pets and the ethical problem presented by having birds as pets. A lot of the students or their family members have birds in their homes, making this a personal and important conversation for many of them.

Birds! The importance of awareness and conservation

The activities are only beginning! The students of the state college of Campeche (Cabocam), listened to talks presented by the members of the Plataleas Bird Club. Topics included: the problem of illegal hunting and sale of birds, given by M. Esmeralda León Balán and Ronaldo I. Uitz Escamilla; the myths and legends about local birds, presented by Michelle Y. Coba Carbajal and Ana Paola Escalante Zapata; the environmental benefits provided by the beach and its birds, presented by MC. Gerardo A. Aviles Ramirez; and finally, the diversity and characteristics of the aquatic birds of Campeche and bird watching in the area, given by Ángeles Pereyra Caamal, Abner Pérez De León and Braulio García Hernández.

Photos courtesy of Plataleas Bird Club

The talks were a great opportunity for the students to learn more about the local birds and their importance for the local biodiversity and the community of Campeche. At the same time, the coordinators had the opportunity to listen to the young people from the state college and learn about their experiences with birds. Specifically the topics of illegal hunting and sale of birds in the region as well as the myths and legends surrounding birds were mentioned. These issues are very important to this particular community. The students were highly normalized to wild animal domestication and it was apparent that the young people knew in detail the myths and legends of the area about birds, in particular nocturnal birds of prey like owls. A lot of information and experiences were exchanged around these topics. It is clear that this exchange of knowledge, experiences, and perspectives must occur more frequently and not just around birds, but also around the valuable and incredible biodiversity of Campeche. Sharing was amazing!

Birdwatching and beach cleaning

When the health situation in the region improved it became possible to hold in person activities. First was a bird watching expedition. All the participants woke up very early to observe the early birds. Time to learn about those natural alarm clocks! Thankfully everyone showed up on time and the exploration began. Even the mayor of Seybaplaya joined! All participants were given a small bird guide containing pictures of the birds with their names and space to write down their quantity and any comments they wanted to make. The guide was very helpful in identifying the local species found in the area. During the excursion an impressive number of seabirds were found, including pelicans, monjitas, herons, terns, seagulls, cormorants, sandpipers, frigate birds and some migratory birds. What luck! The participants fell in love with birding and wanted to go out again to write down their observations and share them on aVerAves.

After the birdwatching and the talks the participants and the Plataleas Bird Club wanted to take some action  to help the birds and other animal species of the region. Everyone joined the beach cleanup on the almost 20 kilometer long SeybaPlaya boardwalk. Fifteen large trash bags were filled with items found along the Boardwalk. A super effort! People who passed through the area and saw the group at work became interested in the group’s action and some even joined the community effort! Several people aided in the cleanup, and it was very exciting and moving to see the local support of the residents  in helping this noble cause. After the clean up a short talk was given about the importance of keeping the beaches clean for all the living beings, and the participants were thanked for their collective support of the initiative. The educational activities around birds and their conservation organized by the Plataleas Bird Club were a complete success!

The Plataleas Bird Club group would like to thank the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for giving them the opportunity to hold the Bird Festival in the community of Seybaplaya, Campeche. They also greatly appreciate Escobar & Escobar Projects for giving them the support for the festival. Much thanks to M.C. Gerardo A. Avilés Ramírez, the head of the Laboratory of Sustainable Development Models and coordinator of the biology major at the National Institute of Technology of Mexico, China Campus, for trusting them and giving them his support in these activities. They also greatly thank the Mendoza Institute school for giving them the virtual space to present the talk to their students, and thanks to the teacher, Ms. Alejandra Dzib Sánchez, for giving them a space in her class. Of course, above all, they thank the students who participated during the workshops.

Page created by Diego Valle