By Gemara Gifford, Conservation Scientist & TWP’s Development Director
Have you ever wondered where birds go when they fly south? October is that time of year when migratory birds to gear up to fly from TWP’s projects in the Northern Great Plains all the way down to those in Latin America. Golden-winged Warblers (pictured above), Black-and-white Warblers, Wood Thrushes, and Baltimore Orioles are just a few species that will winter in remote places like Guatemalan villages, Salvadoran cloud forests, Honduran coffee agroecosystems, and Nicaraguan dry forests.
Unfortunately, migratory bird populations are declining faster than most other avian species worldwide (State of North America’s Birds 2016) due to habitat loss on their wintering grounds and also because we know less about their conservation requirements in Central America compared to their breeding grounds in the U.S. and Canada. What we do know is migrants tend to live in the same places as the rural communities whom TWP works with, and can directly benefit from community-based development projects (Agroecosystems for communities and conservation).
Did you know that TWP’s clean cookstove, reforestation, and farmer-to-farmer training programs in Central America are especially helping to conserve migratory birds?
- TWP’s clean cookstoves greatly reduce the amount of fuelwood families use to cook (an average of 50%) and as a result protect nearby forests and reduce deforestation.
- Our reforestation programs in the U.S. and Central America improve degraded bird habitat, with over 7 million trees planted so far, and also protect the soils and watersheds upon which families depend.
- By training hundreds of smallholder farmers in agroecology, agriculture can be diversified with multiple tree species and crop types which creates excellent migratory bird habitat while producing important foods and fibers for people.
For 18 years, our generous supporters have been helping us make the world a better place for people and the planet. Did you realize your dedication has also been helping to conserve threatened migratory birds?
On behalf of TWP, I am excited to invite you to join us on our newest endeavor with migratory birds – to follow them as they head south! This January, we’ll take 15 TWP donors and supporters to tour our new projects in Central Honduras. There we will conduct baseline bird surveys in cloud forest agroecosystems, and participate in on-the-ground bird conservation efforts through clean cookstove construction, tree planting, and ten days of cross-cultural exchange with our local partners at the Center for Education in Sustainable Agriculture in Socorro, Honduras.
With your continued support we can make the world a better place for people and wildlife. For more information about how to attend the 2017 Honduras Work Tour, or to learn about how TWP’s projects benefit birds, give me a call at 877-606-4TWP.
A special thanks to Ruth Bennett, Ph.D. student at Cornell University, for providing photos of her ongoing research in Central America to uncover the best strategies for conserving the Golden-winged Warblers in working landscapes.