Birder's Guide

MAY 2017

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.

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11 May 2017 | Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community of her sightings of the Ruby-throats and other species in her bird-friendly garden. "On September 30, 2016, I broke a personal late-date fall record for a Ruby- throated Hummingbird yard sighting," she says, "and I believe it is because those car- dinal flowers were one of the few remain- ing food sources in the area before those tiny critters began their migration journey." Cardinal flowers have become a focal point in the Seymour/Perry yard. Every- one who visits asks about them. "We also planted three rosettes under our bay window," Seymour says. "Hope- fully next summer, we will see humming- birds while sitting on the couch!" Marcy Summers: Community-Centered Conservation ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Sometimes you just fall in love with a place. That's what happened to Marcy Summers in the remote Tompotika Penin- sula of Sulawesi. Summers was a program officer at The Nature Conservancy, stationed in Indone- sia, in 2006 when she first came to know Tompotika. As a field biologist and profes- sional conservationist, she witnessed both the remarkable biodiversity of the area and its dwindling prospects due to human de- velopment. Among many other gems, Tompotika is home to some of the last, best breeding grounds of the endangered Maleo (Macro - cephalon maleo). Maleos are chicken-like creatures with bulbous protrusions on their heads that resemble football helmets; they are from a family of ground-dwelling birds that don't incubate their nests with body heat but instead cover their eggs with big mounds of vegetation and soil that re - lease heat while decomposing. Gone from nearly all of its former range, virtually ev- ery Maleo egg laid was being taken and sold as a luxury item for egg collectors by the time Summers arrived. If ever there was a place crying out for on-the-ground, community-based con - servation, it was Tompotika. Summers jumped right in, leaving the security of her job and founding a tiny, dual-country non-profit organization: Alliance for Tom- potika (AlTo). In the past 10 years, AlTo has notched success after success, a testament to Sum- mers's persistence, humility, and faith in the community-centered approach to con - servation. AlTo now employs 10 full-time local staffers, including community orga- nizers and conservation officers. Today, virtually all Maleo poaching in Tompotika has ceased. Maleo numbers at the Taima nesting ground are steadily ris- ing—the only place on Earth where Maleo numbers are known to be increasing. For- mer egg poachers now earn a better wage by guarding nesting grounds. The success of Summers's program in- spired other local villages to invite AlTo in. That led to similar projects protecting sea turtles, bats, and forest habitat, includ - ing the creation of the 10,000-hectare (25,000-acre) Tompotika Forest Preserve. Beach patrols and egg relocation have re- sulted in a quadrupling of sea turtle hatch- lings returning to the ocean each year, and critical fruit bat habitat has been protected through the establishment of a Local Ma- rine Protected Area at Tangkuladi Island. Outreach to government and law enforce- ment has led to more enforcement of wild- life laws. AlTo's achievements for non-human Noah Strycker Creswell, Oregon Through education and other activities, the Alliance for Tompotika started by Marcy Summers improves life for humans and non- human species on the remote Tompotika Peninsula of Sulawesi. Photo © Pandji Kresno In the past 10 years, numbers of the endangered Maleo have increased on their Taima nesting ground in Sulawesi, with help from the community-centered Alliance for Tompotika. Photo © Kevin Schafer

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