Ecuador's 'Children of the Sea' Help to Save a Hummingbird

Over the last three years, 50 schoolchildren and 20 adults from the community of Las Tunas, along Ecuador's Pacific Coast, have collected and recycled more than 1 million plastic bottles. Their efforts are part of the "Children of the Sea" recycling program, which holds weekly beach clean-ups and aims to maintain a “zero waste zone” in the community.

The bottles are re-purposed into artisan crafts, such as handbags, and sold by a local women's group.

Children of the Sea, Byron Delgado

Children of the Sea in action. Photo by Byron Delgado

Community trash cleanup days have become a regular event around the 38-acre Ayampe Reserve, established in 2012 by Fundación Jocotoco with support from American Bird Conservancy. This reserve, along the Ayampe River on the coast, protects the most important known breeding site for the Esmeraldas Woodstar, a highly endangered hummingbird.

The reserve's coastal forests and mangroves also host migratory Watch List species including Olive-sided Flycatcher, Marbled Godwit, and Lesser Yellowlegs.

Esmeraldas Woodstar, Roger Ahlman

Esmeraldas Woodstar, Roger Ahlman

Barely bigger than a bumblebee, the Esmeraldas Woodstar, known by locals as Estrellita, or "Little Star," is a striking bird. But fewer than 1,000 individuals are thought to remain, making conservation of this tiny hummingbird an urgent priority.

Like the Children of the Sea program, conservation efforts in this area involve local communities across several thousand acres of communal land to benefit the bird, the watershed, and the community.