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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16 Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community | May 2017 Joaquin Galindo: Raptors of the Rio Grande ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Joaquin Galindo, a 13-year-old from McAllen, Texas, isn't quite sure why birds have always fascinated him. "It may be the flight or it might be the feathers," he says. Whatever the reason, Galindo is often out in the Rio Grande Valley watching, studying, and photographing birds. When he spied adult and juvenile Gray Hawks in the suburbs of McAllen in 2015, he con - tacted raptor expert Bill Clark—and since then, Galindo has been helping Clark with studies of Harris's Hawks and "rare" breed- ing raptors in south Texas. Galindo described this research as part of his Conservation/Community Leader- ship module entry in the 2017 ABA Young Birder of the Year Contest. Galindo won second place in the module and received third place as the overall Young Birder of the Year in the 11- to 13-year-old age group. The purpose of The Rare Breeding Rap- tor Project is to identify non-native raptor species summering and nesting in the Rio Grande Valley, and to assess the distribu- tion of native Gray Hawks and other rap- tors in the area. Galindo and Clark have spent many hours in the field searching for perching, nesting, and flying raptors, often in sizzling heat. "We have found Swainson's Hawks sum- mering throughout the Rio Grande Valley, a Red-shouldered Hawk, and a Cooper's Hawk pair that successfully nested," Galin- do says. "We located Gray Hawks in tradi- tional habitats along the Rio Grande River, and we were surprised to also find them throughout cities and towns, far from their traditional habitats." To share his knowledge and enthusiasm for raptors and other birds, Galindo gives free presentations at local libraries. Nearly 200 kids have attended the four events Galindo has offered so far. "Librarians and parents were amazed that even small children gave their undi - vided attention," Galindo says. "Kids quickly learned to identify birds, and Gray Hawk was the runaway fa- vorite raptor species." Galindo's busy schedule of bird conservation and community activities shows no signs of slowing down, and he plans to keep work- ing with Clark on raptor research. "We do not know why Swainson's Hawks and other non-native hawks are over-summering in the Rio Grande Valley or why Gray Hawks are beginning to move into urban areas," he says, "at least not yet." Peter Wilkinson & Colin Shawyer: Bringing Back Barn Owls ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Barn Owls in the U.K. are getting a boost from an informal group of birders coordi- nated by ABA member Peter Wilkinson and his colleague, Colin Shawyer, both of Hertfordshire. Wilkinson, who has been banding birds in the U.K. for more than 50 years, first got involved with Barn Owls in the late 1980s. At that time, he was asked to train Shaw- yer, who had organized a survey of Barn Owls in the U.K. that revealed the species' significant population decline during the 20th century. Barn Owls had dipped in the U.K. from more than 12,000 pairs in the 1930s to about 4,500 pairs in the 1980s. Concerned, Shawyer created the vol- unteer Barn Owl Conservation Network (BOCN), which has for many years put up owl nest boxes to replace traditional breeding sites in large cavities of old-style barns and trees. Conservation Milestones Continued on page 18 With his sisters, 8-year-old Gabriela and 11-year-old Catarina, Joaquin Galindo has given four public library presentations about raptors and other birds, holding more than 200 kids spellbound. Photo © Gloria Galindo ABA member Peter Wilkinson has reason to smile. His efforts to conserve U.K. Barn Owls, including these healthy chicks, are making an impact. Photo © Allistair Berry

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