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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Page 16 of 51

15 May 2017 | Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community this possible, and we can all be proud of the final outcome," Walker says. The wildlife garden fits into Audu- bon's ongoing Creating Bird-Friendly Communities initiative. To learn more, visit bird-friendly-communities-1 Daphne Gemmill: Vieques Bird Lady ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– On Vieques Island about eight miles off the east coast of the main island of Puerto Rico, they call Daphne Gemmill the "Vieques Bird Lady". And no wonder—she is a rec- ognized expert on the island's birds, having surveyed them for 34 consecutive years. It started in 1983, when a friend's mother who had a house on Vieques in- vited Gemmill to visit, with the hope that Gemmill would find an endangered spe- cies so that the island's undeveloped habi- tat could be protected. What she actually found was lots of birds, and she started counting them all. In 2002, the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge was created. Today, Gemmill's surveys are even more important, as the habitat is threatened by those who want to sell off public lands. Currently, most former Navy lands are protected from development. Gemmill, of Washington, D.C., who conducts one to three an- nual surveys during dif - ferent times of year, also serves as the island's eBird reviewer. She's pleased that her data have been used to support conservation initiatives for the Vieques Conservation and Histori- cal Trust, Friends of the National Wildlife Refuges, and the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge. It was also gratifying in 2015 when the Journal of Caribbean Ornithology published as a special edition Gemmill's book, The Birds of Vieques Island, Puerto Rico: Status, Abundance, and Conserva- tion, which is the definitive work on the island's avifau- na (available at Buteo Books: buteobooks. com/product/14509.html). Gemmill has a long and productive his- tory with the ABA. She led the develop - ment and adoption of the association's first conservation policy and served as the first chair of the conservation committee. "I have been interested in natural his- tory my entire life," she says. "In 1978, I took a Smithsonian ornithology course that engaged me in the fascinating world of birds. By 1988, I had an ABA list over 600 and was on the board of directors of the ABA, on which I served until 1999." Go online to learn more about the Vi- eques Conservation and Historical Trust Visit ( and Vieques National Wildlife Refuge ( Longtime bird surveyor Daphne Gemmill, a.k.a. the "Vieques Bird Lady", leads bird walks and gives public lectures and workshops at the Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust on Vi - eques Island, Puerto Rico. Photo © Kathy Viet of a 2015 program by Augusta–Aiken Audubon that paid for kindergarten teach- ers to train in a curriculum introducing students to the outdoors. Instructors at the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center conducted the training, which included two field activities for students. "We felt that if the children were to con- tinue to develop an interest in the natural world around them, they would need an area close by where they could observe na- ture, long after the funding was gone for field trips away from the school," Walker says. "So we hatched a plan to build a wildlife garden." The garden project turned out to be a real community effort. The school provid- ed an unused courtyard, and the princi- pal personally paid for pavers and plastic sheeting for solarization. The Aiken Master Gardener Association supplied advice and $500 for mulch and an irrigation system. Grovetown, Georgia, Scout Troop 108 donated labor. The Silver Bluff Audubon Center and Sanctuary gave native plants dug up from their land. Audubon South Carolina put in money for bird feeders and water features. Students painted trel- lises and plant labels. And Augusta–Aiken Audubon donated many hours of labor and planning. "A lot of groups came together to make Kindergarteners at Aiken Elementary School in South Carolina learn about the outdoors during a "field day" supported by Augusta–Aiken Audubon in 2015. Photo © Alice Walker

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