The Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival (CEBF), now in its 21st year, announces its return for a month-long celebration of the region’s endemic birds! This year’s theme is “Sing, Fly, Soar — Like a Bird!” We will learn about our feathered friends, exploring their beautiful songs and astounding power of flight. Their flight expresses pure freedom and their songs reach out to us, as we connect with them and reflect on their amazing journeys with mixed feelings of envy and admiration. Who hasn’t wished they were able to slip “the surly bonds of Earth” and “danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings”?* These emotions stir us as we embrace this evocative theme.
CEBF creativity – online
How are we reflecting the theme in our CEBF 2021 activities? The #HumansofBirdsCaribbean have been busy behind the scenes preparing webinars, e-books, art classes, colouring pages, videos, origami, puzzles, activity sheets and so much more. A fan favourite, the ‘Endemic Bird of the Day’ series is back with a line-up of 30 new endemic bird species. Be sure to follow BirdsCaribbean on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to see if your favourite bird made the cut. BirdsCaribbean is also excited to host our first ever Bird Zine Contest (pronounced zeen) and a virtual social event, Bird Jeopardy, this year to the festival!
Last spring the event kicked off with a discussion on the Bahamas’ mysterious “Chickcharney” led by the Bahamas National Trust’s Scott Johnson. Dr Ancilleno Davis led a wonderful story time session about mangroves and gave us a virtual tour of his backyard, which happened to be a thriving mangrove habitat! Christine Elder and Josmar Esteban Marquez helped us to realize our potential as artists by inviting us to follow along as they sketched Caribbean birds. New birders were treated to a six-session course “Birding for Beginners,” organized and hosted by Antigua’ Environmental Awareness Group (EAG). The BirdsCaribbean flock has expanded considerably and we hope to continue to build interest and enthusiasm for the region’s rich bird diversity.
An interactive festival experience
This year, during April and May, we have another astonishing line-up of talks. We will dive into a range of topics, including how to record and use birdsongs to understand bird behavior; endemic hummingbirds in the Bahamas; the role of wildlife rehabilitators in nurturing the next generation of champion conservationists; and new discoveries in regional bird research.
However, CEBF participants will not only be sitting and watching; we have also worked on making the CEBF even more interactive. For the past 18 months we have collected stories, myths, and beliefs about birds from our members, which are currently being compiled into an e-book. We have also launched a zine-making contest called the Bird Zine Contest: you will find more details here. And throughout the festival we will be accepting short videos of our members, explaining what this year’s theme means to them – more details on this coming shortly!
Meanwhile, stay safe…
The well-being of our partners and supporters remains the highest priority for BirdsCaribbean. Following the model of our hugely successful virtual “From the Nest” edition of CEBF in 2020 we will provide activities that can be done from the safety of your homes. Some countries are still experiencing serious COVID challenges, while others are doing better. Do follow your local public health guidelines and mask up, socially distance, and stay home if this is called for. With vaccinations now being administered, there is a light at the end of the tunnel—hopefully we will be able to up meet at birding hotspots across the region in the coming months!
The CEBF is a great opportunity for people of all ages to learn about and connect with the Caribbean’s 171 endemic bird species. These birds inspire us to rise above our challenges. In spite of the threats they face; from loss of their habitats to hurricanes to invasive species, they continue to sing, fly and soar!
Visit birdscaribbean.org or follow @BirdsCaribbean on social media for fun and free activities this spring.