Birder's Guide

MAY 2016

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

Issue link: http://bg.aba.org/i/688884

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12 Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community | May 2016 that look like them, images they can re- late to. When you turn on ESPN or MTV, there are relatable images galore–but not on Animal Planet, not on the Discovery Channel, not on National Geographic. My ultimate goal would be to break down those doors, to blaze a new trail for minorities." Ward has also been active in helping identify bird photos in the ABA's "What's This Bird?" Facebook group, a page where anyone can post pictures of mystery birds for comment. The group has more than 2,500 members, and new photos are post- ed every day. Check it out at facebook. com/groups/whatsthisbird. Elsa Alvear: Certifable Birding Fun ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– For visitors to Biscayne National Park south of Miami, Florida, birding is not only enjoyable and challenging. It's also certifable. Since 2013, the park has partnered with Miami-based Tropical Audubon So- ciety to award "lifetime achievement cer- tifcates" to encourage people to identify as many native birds as they can within park boundaries. Full-color certifcates, signed by the park superintendent and executive director of Tropical Audubon, are given at four levels, recognizing lifetime achieve- ment in identifying at least 30 bird species (Double-crested Cormorant Certifcate), 60 bird species (Royal Tern Certifcate), 90 bird species (Brown Booby Certifcate), and 120 species (Mangrove Cuckoo Cer- tifcate). Birders can submit bird lists to earn higher-level certifcates as their spe- cies counts increase, and youngsters aged 18 and under can earn a Junior Bird Cer- tifcate for identifying at least 10 species. The program is free and available to any park visitor and has already awarded more than 50 certifcates. The creative genius behind Biscayne's certifcate-earning program is Elsa Alvear, the park's chief of resource management. "My idea was to create a fun program that would engage birders in the park, en - gage youth in wildlife watching, increase awareness of biodiversity and natural habi - tat, and augment wildlife data collection efforts via citizen science," Alvear says. "This is the frst time that a national park has offered a certifcate program like this— and I hope it inspires other parks." Several parks have expressed inter- est in starting their own certifcate- earning programs, and media interest has been high, with articles in the Miami Herald and Pinecrest Maga- zine. Alvear was awarded a Miami Birding Achievement Award for her efforts. To earn certifcates, visitors are encouraged to visit several loca- tions on the Biscayne Birding Trail, where more than 200 bird species have been documented, and to follow ABA birding ethics. The beautiful photography on the certifcates features bird species associated with the park. For example, Brown Pelicans and Double- crested Cormorants are frequently and easily seen, and the park has the highest density of Mangrove Cuckoos in the U.S. In addition to the certifcate program, Alvear keeps busy organizing Junior Birder events, connecting the park to local low-income communities in order to "cre- ate a new generation of birders with avian conservation and natural resource stew- ardship". She has also worked for years to replace mowed lawns around the park's visitor center and parking lot with bird-friendly native landscape, and she has obtained grants to bring minority youth to the park to learn how to identify birds. Learn more about the Biscayne Birding Trail Certifcate Program by contacting Al- vear (elsa_alvear@nps.gov) or visiting the website at tinyurl.com/BiscayneBT. Above: Elsa Alvear leads a youth bird walk in Biscayne National Park in 2008. Photo © National Park Service Below: The Mangrove Cuckoo Certifcate recognizes lifetime achievement in identifying at least 120 bird species on the Biscayne Birding Trail. Image courtesy of © National Park Service Conservation Milestones Continued from page 10

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