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By Ellen Jakubowski, Communications and Brand Manager, Birds Canada

The gifts you make through Birds Canada support important work for birds. Thank you for your generous contributions!

The James L. Baillie Memorial Fund is one way your support is put into action. The fund channels part of the proceeds from the annual Great Canadian Birdathon® and private donations to research, conservation, and outreach projects that help birds. For a project to be eligible, it must involve bird species that spend at least part of their annual cycle in Canada. Baillie Fund grants are awarded competitively to successful applicants by independent trustees. 

We are excited to share this story with you, about a recently completed, Baillie Fund-supported project. In 2021, a Small Grant was awarded to Teresa Cano-Palacios and collaborators for a project entitled “Citizens’ awareness towards the Canada Warbler.” The project’s goals were to increase the awareness of volunteers from the city of Cali, Colombia, towards migratory birds, in particular the Canada Warbler, and to start a migratory bird survey in El Otobo Private Reserve in the Western Andes of Colombia. The team embarked on the project in April of 2021 and concluded it in June of 2022.

Canada Warbler Photo: James Lees

The team successfully carried out three trips to El Otobo Private Reserve in February of 2022, with participation from a total of 22 volunteers. Each trip began with a morning bird walk and a short presentation about biodiversity, migratory species, and natural history of the Canada Warbler. Most volunteers were previously unaware of this species and its annual migration between Colombia and breeding areas in Canada and the U.S. Each volunteer also planted two native trees during their visit.

Presentation to volunteers Photo: Andres F. Tigreros
A volunteer planting a tree. Photo: Andres F. Tigreros
A volunteer planting a tree. Photo: Andres F. Tigreros

Surveys for monitoring the Canada Warbler in El Otobo took place from January to May 2022. They were done between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., when the birds are most active. The team identified points within different microhabitats (such as forest, cropland, and grassland) within the reserve and conducted 10-minute counts within a radius of 30 metres of each point. Participants counted Canada Warblers as well as any other bird species they detected.

During the surveys, they recorded three species that are found only in Colombia (i.e. that are “endemic” to Columbia): Colombian Chachalaca, Greyish Piculet, and Apical Flycatcher. Survey participants also noted the Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN, and eight migratory species: Red-eyed Vireo, Swainson’s Thrush, Black-and-white Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Canada Warbler, Summer Tanager, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Golden-naped Tanager Photo: Andres F. Tigreros
Blackburnian Warbler Photo: Andres F. Tigreros

“The most important result was to see the happy faces of our volunteers at the end of the day,” commented Teresa Cano-Palacios in the project report, referencing the awareness-raising goal. “People were very enthusiastic about the information we showed regarding Colombian biodiversity and the Canada Warbler’s migratory behavior. They found it hard to believe that such a small bird was able to accomplish such a long flight from Canada to Colombia to avoid the cold winter.”

Teresa added that the group was proud to have made an important contribution to the Full-life-cycle Conservation Action Plan for the Canada Warbler by monitoring it in a cloud forest in Colombia, its main wintering country. They data they collected for the project are available to all through eBird for potential future research.

“Baillie Fund helped us tremendously in starting the project that will establish El Otobo as a potential site for eco and agrotourism, birdwatching, and an environmental education center in the municipality of Dagua,” Teresa gratefully acknowledged. Part of the grant was also used to buy binoculars that will continue to make birding experiences accessible to those who visit the reserve. Finally, the grant made it possible to plant trees that will provide shelter and food for Canada Warblers and other birds, and to hire a qualified ornithologist, Andres Tigreros, who carried out a baseline survey of migratory and resident birds in the reserve.

Thank you once again to all of you who are making impactful projects like this one possible through your support for the Great Canadian Birdathon and the Baillie Fund!

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