Black-and-White Warbler, Dennis W. Donohue/Shutterstock
News and Perspectives on Bird Conservation
BirdBlitz! Counting Birds to Save Birds in Ecuador
adminOctober 15, 2014
Esmeraldas Woodstar feeding at Ayampe Reserve. Photo by Francisco Sornoza
By Benjamin Skolnik
To celebrate the astonishing bird diversity harbored at Jocotoco Foundation's reserves, I'm participating in the first “BioBlitz” to be held in Latin America: a “BirdBlitz” to document bird diversity.
Over the course of two 24-hour periods between Oct. 15 and Oct. 22, we will be documenting all the birds we can observe at Jocotoco reserves across Ecuador. The country is home to over 1,500 species of birds, and we hope to see over 500.
Benjamin Skolnik explains why supporting Fundación Jocotoco during the 2014 BirdBlitz is important for bird conservation in Ecuador.
In just the past year, American Bird Conservancy, Jocotoco and other partners added thousands of acres to the Antisanilla Reserve, Narupa Reserve, and Río Canande Reserve. Jocotoco now operates 10 reserves throughout Ecuador, protecting over 50 endangered and threatened birds along with many overwintering migrants.
The creation and expansion of these reserves ensures protected habitat for rare species like Great Green Macaw, Andean Condor, Jocotoco Antpitta, El Oro Parakeet, and Esmeraldas Woodstar. Many of these reserves harbor the last viable populations for some of these species.
Red-masked Parakeet at Jorupe Reserve. Photo by Francisco Sornoza
Why are we doing this? For two reasons: first, the BirdBlitz is helping to document and count all the birds in these reserves. This information will help us develop a more comprehensive understanding of the array of birds benefiting from these reserves and enable us to guide birdwatchers interested in conservation birding to certain species.
Jocotoco Antpitta at Tapichalaca Reserve. Photo by Hugo Arnal
Second, and perhaps more important, the BirdBlitz is a way to generate operational support for Jocotoco and these 10 reserves. While it was no easy task to secure these properties, the hard work has only just begun: Our partner now has even more lands to manage and support in perpetuity.
The ongoing management of a protected reserve is something that a lot of us don't think about every day. We might help with the initial land acquisition, which is the kind of support ABC has frequently provided to Jocotoco in the past. But what's difficult for these groups is to then support an administrator, employ guards, and coordinate with local municipalities. This all takes time, effort, and funding. That's where you can help!
El Oro Parakeets. Photo by Fundacion Jocotoco
Like a "birdathon," supporters of the BirdBlitz are asked to sponsor us as we scour the reserves in search of birds both rare and common. We expect to record at least 500 species, so a pledge of 25¢, 50¢ or $1 per bird will make a big difference. For example, it costs Jocotoco roughly $5,000 each year to hire a park ranger to patrol, protect, and maintain a reserve.
We hope you'll consider supporting this worthy cause. Click here to record your pledge, or make a special donation to support the Jocotoco Foundation here.
Let the birding begin, and thank you for your support!
Andean Condor in flight. Photo by Murray Cooper
Benjamin Skolnik is an International Conservation Officer at American Bird Conservancy. He works with partners in Ecuador and Colombia on projects for land protection, ecotourism, and conservation birding. He also coordinates the Alliance for Zero Extinction, a global effort to curb species loss. He is fluent in Spanish and can speak basic Quechua. Benjamin lives in historic Greenbelt, Maryland with his family.