Infrastructure Week 2024

Urban Jungles: How Birds Thrive in City Settings

Birdorable Peregrine Falcon in the city

When we think about urban environments, images of bustling streets, towering skyscrapers, and dense human populations come to mind. Yet amidst this concrete jungle, a surprising array of bird species not only survive but thrive. Adapting to city life involves a fascinating blend of biological resilience and behavioral flexibility, allowing birds to exploit new resources and navigate the challenges of urban spaces.

Among the most iconic urban dwellers is the Peregrine Falcon. Renowned for being the fastest animals on earth—capable of diving at speeds over 200 miles per hour to catch their prey—these cosmopolitan raptors have found a surprising ally in tall buildings and skyscrapers. These structures mimic the high cliff ledges Peregrine Falcons traditionally nest on. Cities also provide an abundant supply of prey such as pigeons and smaller birds. Major cities around the globe, from New York to London, now host thriving populations of these falcons, which have adapted remarkably well to urban life.

Streaming nestcams featuring Peregrine Falcons are abundant due to their frequent use of urban buildings for nesting. Right now is a great time to check out cams like the ones linked below, as the Peregrines are busy raising their fluffy young.

Then there are Barn Swallows, who traditionally nest in caves, and in barns and other open structures in rural areas. In cities, these agile fliers have transitioned to nesting under bridges and highway overpasses, using these man-made structures to support their mud-built nests. This adaptation not only provides them with safe nesting sites away from many ground predators, but also places them near water sources where insects—their primary food source—are abundant.

Other bird species that thrive in areas of human development are easy to identify: a big clue is in their name (the name we humans gave to them).  Think about where we can find birds like House Sparrows, House Finches and House Wrens, Barn Owls, Roadside Hawks, and House Martins of the Old World.

City parks and gardens are vital refuges for many bird species. Here, smaller birds like sparrows and finches find not only food in the form of plants and insects but also an assortment of bird feeders filled by enthusiastic bird watchers. These green spaces serve as miniature ecosystems within the urban sprawl, offering shelter and breeding sites. The presence of trees and water features in parks also supports a variety of bird species, from the common robin to the more elusive kingfisher in cities with rivers or ponds.

Birdhouses and nesting platforms are another crucial element that bolsters bird populations in urban settings. Many cities have seen successful implementation of nest box programs that encourage species such as Eastern Bluebirds and Purple Martins to take up residence. These initiatives not only help in bird conservation, increase biodiversity and promote a healthy environment, but also engage the local community in wildlife management and education. Platforms and artificial nests provide safe havens for birds to rear their young away from the prying eyes of predators and the disturbances of city life.

Moreover, urban environments are witnessing innovative approaches to support bird life. For instance, some cities have introduced green roofs, which are covered with vegetation and provide a new habitat for urban birds and other wildlife. These green roofs can reduce the "heat island" effect of cities and offer birds a cooler place to rest and feed. They also help in water retention and provide foraging grounds for insects, thus supporting a small but vital food web for urban bird species.

In adapting to urban environments, birds demonstrate remarkable versatility and resilience. While these adaptations highlight their ability to cope with and exploit new environments, they also underscore the importance of human efforts in supporting urban wildlife. By installing birdhouses, maintaining parks, and initiating conservation programs, we can ensure that our cities remain hospitable to a diverse array of bird species.

Birdorable Herring Gull in the city
Birdorable Barn Swallows flying in front of an office building

It's Infrastructure Week on our blog! The series will dive into the fascinating intersection of urban development and bird conservation and other topics related to infrastructure and birds.  As our cities expand and evolve, so too does the need to consider our feathered friends in our architectural and landscaping decisions. From bridges that serve as nesting grounds to green roofs that offer safe havens, we'll explore how modern infrastructure relates to birds.

Birds brighten our skies with their vibrant colors and melodious songs, but they face numerous dangers as they navigate a world increasingly dominated by human infrastructure. As we expand our cities and networks, we create hazards that pose serious threats to avian populations. Among the most pressing concerns are collisions with glass buildings. Thankfully, innovative solutions and architectural designs are emerging that can mitigate these risks, offering hope for safer skies for our feathered friends.

Fritted glass on the JP Morgan Building in Sydney by Rob Deutscher [CC BY 2.0 Deed]

Glass buildings, with their sleek and modern aesthetics, are a staple of urban architecture. However, they pose a significant hazard to birds. The transparent and reflective properties of glass can deceive birds into thinking they're flying towards open sky or habitat, leading to collisions that are often fatal. Each year, it's estimated that millions of birds die from striking glass surfaces. Cities along major migration flyways can be major zones of bird mortality during the spring and fall. This issue has garnered attention from conservationists, architects, and city planners who are all working towards making buildings safer for our feathered friends.

One of the primary reasons glass buildings are so dangerous to birds is that birds don't perceive glass as a barrier. The reflections of trees, sky, and other natural elements on glass surfaces can create an illusion of continuity in their habitat. When birds try to fly through these illusions, they collide with the hard, unyielding glass. Furthermore, during nighttime, interior lights confuse and attract nocturnal migrants, compounding the risk of collisions.

Netting to make windows safer for birds

Addressing this issue, several innovative solutions and architectural adjustments can be implemented to help reduce bird collisions with glass buildings:

  • Fritted Glass: This type of glass has patterns etched onto it that are visible to birds but minimally intrusive to human eyes. The patterns can take various forms such as dots, lines, or images that cover enough surface area to alert birds of the barrier ahead.

  • Angled Glass: Installing glass at an angle can help reduce reflections of the sky and vegetation, which are often the visual cues that mislead birds. Angled glass reduces the severity of these reflections, making the surface more visible to birds as an obstacle.

  • External Screens and Netting: Installing screens or netting in front of glass surfaces can physically prevent birds from colliding with the glass. This method doesn't alter the glass itself but provides a barrier that birds can see and avoid.
  • UV-reflective Glass: Birds can see ultraviolet light, which is invisible to humans. Glass treated to reflect ultraviolet light can appear clear to humans but is visible to birds. This technology allows buildings to maintain their transparency for people while being an effective deterrent against bird strikes.

Bird-safe glass with decals by Kendeda Building | Shan Arora [CC BY 2.0 Deed]

  • Decals and Window Films: Placing decals or special films on glass surfaces can make windows visible to birds without significantly affecting the view from inside. These decals are often placed in specific patterns that provide cues to birds that there is a barrier.

  • Lighting Reduction: Reducing light pollution, especially during migration seasons, can decrease the number of birds attracted to and disoriented by glass buildings at night. Many cities are adopting guidelines that include turning off building lights or dimming them during critical migration periods.

Community involvement is also crucial. Initiatives like bird conservation programs and educational campaigns can raise awareness about the importance of bird-friendly designs. By supporting policies that require or encourage such measures, the public can play a pivotal role in promoting safer environments for birds.

During this infrastructure week, as we continue to build and innovate, it's vital that we consider our impact on the natural world. With thoughtful design and technological advances, we can create infrastructures that not only serve human needs but also protect our avian companions. Ensuring the safety of birds as they navigate the challenges of modern landscapes is not just an act of conservation; it's a commitment to preserving the beauty and diversity of life on Earth.

Birdorable Akekee and 'Akikiki birds in Hawaii

‘Akeke‘e (left) and 'Akikiki (right)

In an unprecedented and inspiring leap towards conservation, the American Bird Conservancy, alongside other conservatoin agencies, has embarked on a groundbreaking mission in Hawaii to save several critically endangered Hawaiian honeycreepers from the brink of extinction. The culprits behind the looming threat? Invasive Southern House Mosquitoes carrying avian malaria. The solution? A clever, innovative strategy involving the release of non-biting male mosquitoes engineered to curb the mosquito population and, by extension, the spread of the deadly disease.

Hawaiian honeycreepers, with their vibrant plumage and unique evolutionary history, are more than just birds; they are integral to Hawaii's ecological and cultural tapestry. Once flourishing with over 50 native species, the islands now see a stark reduction to merely 17, each teetering dangerously close to oblivion. The initiative, aptly named Birds, Not Mosquitoes (BNM), marks a significant milestone in conservation efforts, particularly as it coincides with Makahiki o Nā Manu Nahele, or the Year of the Forest Bird, amplifying its significance and urgency.

November 2023 saw the first of these mosquito releases on Maui and Kaua‘i, following extensive study, analysis, and regulatory nods from state and federal bodies. This innovative approach introduces mosquitoes carrying a strain of Wolbachia bacteria, harmless to humans but fatal to mosquito progeny. When these engineered males mate with wild females, the resulting eggs fail to hatch, leading to a gradual but significant decrease in mosquito populations.

This technique, already proven in combating mosquito-borne human diseases globally, promises a ray of hope for Hawaii's feathered natives. Without intervention, climate change's warmer, drier conditions push mosquitoes to higher elevations, directly threatening the survival of species like the Kiwikiu and ‘Ākohekohe on Maui, and ‘Akikiki and ‘Akeke‘e on Kaua‘i. Experts warn that without a drastic reduction in mosquito numbers, these birds could vanish within a decade.

'I'iwi by Mellisa McMasters (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Behind this ambitious project is a broad coalition of state and federal agencies, non-profit organizations, and researchers, all united under the banner of the U.S. Department of Interior's Strategy to Prevent the Extinction of Hawaiian Forest Birds. The initiative not only aims to stabilize and eventually increase native bird populations but also sets the stage for future re-introductions from conservation breeding programs.

Monitoring forms the backbone of this initiative, with teams on Maui and Kaua‘i meticulously tracking mosquito populations with traps, as well as malaria prevalence, and bird population dynamics. This extensive, data-driven approach ensures that the intervention's impact is scientifically measured, paving the way for further releases and an expanded fight against avian malaria.

The commitment of nearly $16 million by the current administration under the Investing in America Agenda underscores the project's importance, signaling a collective determination to protect Hawaii's unique biodiversity. As 2024 unfolds, the partnership eyes continued efforts on Maui, expanded operations on Kaua‘i, and a comprehensive Statewide Environmental Assessment to explore wider applications of this conservation tool.

This pioneering endeavor exemplifies the power of collaboration, innovation, and dedication in the face of seemingly insurmountable conservation challenges. As the Birds, Not Mosquitoes project advances, it stands as a testament to the potential for science and unity to forge a future where Hawaii's skies are once again filled with the vibrant chorus of its native honeycreepers.

Birdorable Black-capped Vireo

The Black-capped Vireo, a small, striking species of songbird that once teetered on the brink of extinction, serves as a symbol of hope in the world of conservation. Its road to recovery showcases the power of targeted conservation efforts. In learning about the Black-capped Vireo, we can celebrate the continued survival of a species that once faced dire prospects.

Black-capped Vireos are notable as the only species of vireo to display sexual dimorphism, meaning males and females have a different appearance. Males can be identified by their distinctive black cap, which contrasts with their white underparts and greenish upper body. Females have a similar look but with more muted color differences.

Native to North America, the Black-capped Vireo breeds across parts of Oklahoma, Texas, and northern Mexico. There, it can be found in shrubby areas where it can find its preferred nesting sites.

By the late 20th century, Black-capped Vireo numbers had dwindled alarmingly, primarily due to habitat loss, grazing practices that altered their natural habitats, and the parasitism of their nests by the Brown-headed Cowbird.

The turning point for the Black-capped Vireo came with its listing as an endangered species, in 1987, which catalyzed a series of conservation actions aimed at reversing its decline. One of the first steps in this process was habitat restoration. By managing vegetation and controlling grazing, conservationists were able to recreate the brushy environments that are ideal for the vireo's breeding and feeding. These efforts provided the birds with the conditions they needed to rebuild their populations.

Photo of a Black-capped Vireo

Another critical component of the Black-capped Vireo's recovery was the control of the Brown-headed Cowbird population throughout critical parts of their breeding range. Through a combination of trapping and monitoring, conservationists significantly reduced the number of cowbirds in areas critical to the vireo's survival. This action decreased the rate of parasitism in vireo nests, allowing more vireo chicks to hatch and reach maturity.

Public education and involvement have also played a vital role in the recovery of the Black-capped Vireo. By raising awareness about the bird's plight and the importance of conservation efforts, organizations and government agencies have garnered support for their initiatives. Volunteers have contributed to the recovery efforts by participating in bird counts and habitat restoration projects.

Thanks to the concerted conservation work, the Black-capped Vireo has made a remarkable comeback. In 2018 it was removed from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife due to these efforts.

However, the conservation journey for the Black-capped Vireo is not over. Continued efforts are necessary to ensure the Black-capped Vireo's long-term survival. Habitat preservation remains a critical factor, as does the need for ongoing management of cowbird populations to prevent them from undermining the vireo's recovery. The species is managed by state agencies in both Texas and Oklahoma. Of course, habitat changes due to climate change pose a continued threat to vireos and other species.

The story of the Black-capped Vireo is a great story of what can be achieved when conservationists, government agencies, and communities come together to save a species from the threat of extinction. This success shows the importance of persistence, innovation, and cooperation in the face of environmental challenges.

Cute Black-capped Vireo Gifts

As the night sky glows with city lights, it's easy to forget that this artificial brightness affects more than just our ability to see the stars. It also poses a significant challenge to millions of migratory birds traveling under the cover of darkness. Each year, vast numbers of birds traverse long distances, relying on natural cues like starlight to navigate. Excessive lighting in urban areas can disorient these nocturnal travelers, leading to fatal window collisions, disorientation, and unnecessary exhaustion. To combat this problem, some cities around the world have adopted "Lights Out" programs, a crucial initiative aimed at making urban environments safer for migrating birds during key periods of their journey.

The concept of "Lights Out" is simple -- yet effective. During peak migration seasons, spring and fall, residents, businesses, and city officials are encouraged to turn off or dim non-essential exterior lighting and window lighting during overnight hours. This reduction in light pollution during critical hours helps decrease the chances of birds being attracted to and disoriented by the lighting, which can lead to collisions with buildings.

Cities like Chicago, Toronto, and New York have been pioneers in this movement. These programs are often run in collaboration with local Audubon societies or wildlife organizations, which help monitor bird populations and advocate for policies that protect these aerial travelers. For example, New York City's "Lights Out New York" initiative is part of a broader effort that includes public awareness campaigns and partnerships with prominent buildings throughout the city to dim their lights during migration periods.

White-throated Sparrow in Chicago by Ryan Dickey [CC BY 2.0 Deed]

The impact of such initiatives can be profound. Research indicates that turning off lights can significantly reduce the number of birds killed due to building collisions. For instance, a study in Chicago found that bird collision deaths dropped by 80% in one building that participated in a Lights Out program (source). But complying with the program during the entirety of migration is key. This same building, McCormick Place, was also the site of a mass bird-collision event in October 2023 when the lights were not turned off as part of the program. Complying with bird-safe Lights Out programs has added benefits, including such as energy conservation, reduced carbon emissions, and building maintenance cost-savings.

Participation in "Lights Out" programs also serves an educational purpose. These programs raise awareness about the plights of migratory birds and the broader ecological impacts of human activities. For many city dwellers, these programs provide a tangible way to contribute to conservation efforts right from their homes or workplaces.

Washington DC window strike victims by USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab [Public Domain]

The success of "Lights Out" in major cities has inspired other municipalities to adopt similar measures. Smaller cities and even individual property owners are encouraged to participate by turning off unnecessary lights during migration seasons. This collective effort creates a safer passage for migratory birds, helping to ensure that these creatures can successfully complete their impressive and crucial journeys.

For bird enthusiasts, participating in or promoting "Lights Out" initiatives is a direct way to engage in bird conservation. It can be as simple as switching off extra lights at night during migration months or advocating for local policies that encourage broader community involvement. By spreading the word, supporting local Audubon chapters, or even participating in citizen science projects to monitor bird populations, individuals can make a substantial impact.

The beauty of the night sky is universal, and ensuring it can be navigated safely by our feathered friends is a responsibility we all share. The "Lights Out" programs represent a hopeful synergy between urban development and natural preservation, proving that even small changes in our behavior can facilitate major positive outcomes for wildlife conservation.

The "Magic Hedge" at Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary in Chicago by Raed Mansour (CC BY 2.0 DEED) with Birdorable birds

Chicago's skyline, while iconic, poses a significant threat to tens of thousands of migrating birds each year. Birds, unable to recognize clear or reflective glass as an obstacle, suffer fatal collisions with buildings. Since 2016, Bird Friendly Chicago (BFC) has been at the forefront of addressing this pressing issue, culminating in a 2020 directive from Chicago’s city council to the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) to prioritize bird-friendly building design.

Despite these efforts, as we approach spring 2024, the DPD hesitates to make bird safety measures mandatory, choosing instead to list them as optional. This decision could perpetuate the cycle of avian fatalities, undermining years of advocacy and research aimed at protecting Chicago's feathered visitors.

The time to act is now. The DPD's upcoming Sustainable Development Policy must include mandatory bird-friendly building standards with their policy release scheduled for April 15th -- there is not time to wait.

BFC has outlined two immediate actions for the public:

  1. Participate in the DPD survey, emphasizing the importance of Bird Protection. Learn more on the Chicago Ornithological Society website here.
  2. Send a personalized email to Mayor Brandon Johnson and key city officials, advocating for mandatory bird-friendly provisions. A sample letter is provided at the COS site linked above.

By engaging in these actions, and spreading the word through social media, Chicago area birders can amplify a collective voice for conservation.

COS has identified April 4th as a Day of Action, where many voices can join together to make a big impact.

This issue transcends environmental considerations; it's about shaping a city that coexists harmoniously with nature. Let's ensure Chicago leads by example, safeguarding the lives of migrating birds for generations to come.

Birdorable Attwater's Prairie-Chickens

Nestled in the coastal prairie of Texas, the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge represents a vital sanctuary for one of North America's most critically endangered birds. The Attwater's Prairie-Chicken, a species that once thrived across the vast grasslands of Texas and Louisiana, now faces the brink of extinction, its numbers dwindling due to habitat loss, predation, and other environmental pressures. However, thanks to concerted conservation efforts, there's hope for this iconic species.

The Attwater's Prairie-Chicken is a subspecies of the Greater Prairie-Chicken. With its distinctive booming calls and elaborate mating dances, it is not just a bird but a symbol of the prairie ecosystem. The refuge, established in 1972, spans over 10,000 acres of native coastal prairie, a rare habitat that has been largely lost to agriculture and urban development. This protected area is crucial for the survival of the prairie chicken, providing a haven where it can breed, feed, and roam freely.

Conservation efforts at the refuge are multifaceted, addressing the complex challenges that the species faces. One of the key strategies has been habitat management, including controlled burns and grazing. These practices mimic the natural disturbances that once maintained the open prairie landscape, promoting the growth of native grasses and forbs essential for the prairie chicken's diet and nesting.

Breeding programs have also been pivotal in the fight to save the Attwater's Prairie-Chicken. The refuge collaborates with zoos and conservation organizations to breed birds in captivity, which are then released into the wild to bolster the population. These efforts have seen some success, with the number of birds in the wild showing occasional increases, highlighting the potential for recovery with sustained effort.

Public education and community engagement are other vital components of the conservation strategy. The refuge offers tours, educational programs, and special events to raise awareness about the bird's plight and the importance of prairie conservation. By fostering a connection between people and this unique ecosystem, the refuge aims to build support for conservation efforts that extend beyond its boundaries.

Despite these efforts, the road to recovery for the Attwater's Prairie-Chicken is fraught with challenges. The species' survival is still far from assured, with threats like climate change and continued habitat fragmentation looming large. Yet, the work being done at the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge offers a beacon of hope. It shows what can be achieved when conservationists, government agencies, and the public come together to save a species from the edge of extinction.

Attwater's Prairie Chicken Festival – April 6-7, 2024

Get ready to mark your calendars for an opportunity to observe one of North America's most endangered birds and experience the uniqueness of the Texas coastal prairie at the Attwater's Prairie Chicken Festival. This festival is returning this year to the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge in Texas on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 April, 2024! The event hours are 7am to 2pm and offers a viewing platform, van tours, prairie plant tour and booths. For more information check out the website of Friends of Attwater Prairie Chicken Refuge.

Attwater's Prairie Chicken Festival poster

Birdorable Attwater Prairie Chicken Gifts

Birdwatcher spotting 1 Blue Jay and 1 Painted Bunting

Every year, bird enthusiasts across the globe eagerly anticipate the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), a citizen science project that offers everyone, from the casual bird watcher to the avid ornithologist, an opportunity to contribute to the understanding and conservation of bird populations. Scheduled to take place February 16 to 19, 2024, this event harnesses the power of community observation to create a real-time snapshot of global bird populations, aiding conservation efforts worldwide.

The GBBC was launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, and it has grown into a global event with participation spanning over 100 countries. The count encourages people to observe and record the birds they see in a specified period in February, using just their backyard, local park, or any outdoor space as a starting point.

Why Participate?

Participation in the GBBC is more than just a weekend activity; it's a contribution to a global database used by scientists to monitor the health of bird populations, understand challenges in bird conservation, and take steps towards protecting birds and their habitats. It's an opportunity to connect with nature, learn more about the birds in your local area, and join a global community of conservationists.

How to Get Involved

  1. Mark Your Calendar: Set aside some time between February 16 and 19, 2024, to watch birds. Even 15 minutes of birdwatching can provide valuable data.

  2. Plan Your Spot: Whether it's your backyard, a local park, or even a balcony with a feeder, find a place where you can quietly observe and identify birds.

  3. Get the Right Tools: Download the eBird mobile app or print out a bird checklist for your area. Familiarize yourself with common bird species you might see. Binoculars and a field guide or a bird identification app can enhance your experience.

  4. Count and Record: Keep track of the types and numbers of birds you see during your observation period. Be sure to note the highest number of each species seen together at one time to avoid double-counting.

  5. Submit Your Observations: Enter your findings on the eBird website or through the eBird mobile app. Your data will become part of a global dataset available for research and conservation efforts.

Birds to Watch for in Your Backyard

The beauty of the GBBC is that every bird counts, from the most common to the rarest visitor. Here are a few species you might encounter, depending on your location:

  • Northern Cardinal: These vibrant red birds are a staple in many North American backyards and are easily identifiable by their color and distinctive crest.

  • Blue Jay: Known for their bright blue plumage and loud calls, Blue Jays are often found in wooded areas but frequently visit feeders.

  • American Robin: A sign of spring for many (and a sign of winter for us here in Florida), robins can be seen year-round in many parts of the U.S. Look for their reddish-orange breast and listen for their cheerful song.

  • Dark-eyed Junco: Often called "snowbirds," these small, slate-gray birds are common winter visitors to feeders across North America.

  • Anna's Hummingbird: In the warmer climates of the West Coast, you might spot these tiny, vibrant birds, recognizable by their iridescent green and pink feathers.

Making Your Count Count

Participation in the GBBC is not only about counting birds but also about being part of a collective effort to protect them. Here are some ways to make your participation even more impactful:

  • Educate Others: Share the event with friends and family. The more people participate, the more data can be collected.

  • Make It an Event: Organize a birdwatching group or event in your community. This can be a great way to meet fellow bird enthusiasts and make the count an enjoyable social activity.

  • Be Consistent: Participate in the GBBC annually. Year-over-year data is invaluable for tracking trends in bird populations.

  • Stay Engaged: The GBBC is just one of many citizen science projects you can participate in. Stay involved with local birding groups or online communities to continue contributing to bird conservation.

The Bigger Picture

The data collected during the GBBC provides critical insights into bird population health and trends. For example, observations can help scientists understand how birds are adapting to climate change, the impact of habitat loss, and the effects of disease on bird populations. This information is crucial for developing conservation strategies and policies to protect birds and their habitats.

The Great Backyard Bird Count represents a unique convergence of citizen science, wildlife conservation, and global collaboration. By dedicating a few hours to observing and recording the birds around us, we can all play a part in a global movement to protect our feathered friends and the environments they inhabit

Birder observing flying Birdorable Razorbills

Birder spotting 4 non-breeding Razorbills

The Ridgway's Hawk is a Critically Endangered bird of prey endemic to the island of Hispaniola. Since 2002, the Ridgway's Hawk Project has been fighting to save this species in the Dominican Republic. The program involves several components, including research, assisted dispersal, and education.

The town of Los Limones is located outside of Los Haitises National Park, where the Project has been working with the community for almost 20 years on Ridgway Hawk conservation. As a part of the Project's outreach, a local youth baseball team was named Los Gavilanes, to honor the species, Gavilan in Spanish. Friends of the Ridgway's Hawk Project donated uniforms to the kids, which feature a Birdorable profile image of the namesake species!

From our friends at the Proyecto Conservación del Gavilán de La Española, we would like to share these photos of Los Gavilanes baseball team.

NATUWA Macaw Sanctuary works to protect native wildlife in Costa Rica. In this guest post, Rodolfo Orozco Vega from the project shares some of the important conservation work they perform with two species of bird.

The Macaw Sanctuary NATUWA is an organization formed by Costa Ricans for the conservation of Costa Rica's biodiversity. Mainly NATUWA has worked with two species of Costa Rican macaw: the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) and the Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus) since 1994.

18 years ago in the community of Aranjuez de Puntarenas, NATUWA created a program to release Scarlet Macaws. With great success, and under the protection of the community of Aranjuez, the birds released by NATUWA are procreating by themselves and increasing the population of wild macaws.

The people of the community understand that with the arrival of the macaws, there are economic benefits for their families -- ecotourism activities focused on the protection of the species. If the birds are protected in the wild, everyone wins: the tourist; the local people; and the macaws.

In addition, NATUWA has a reproduction program of Great Green Macaws for their release in the wild. Currently, it provides the largest enclosure in Central America in donut shape (200 meters in circumference) where they prepare the birds for their future release in the Atlantic zone of Costa Rica. If you want to know more about this beautiful project, visit

- Rodolfo Orozco Vega