Monday, September 27, 2010

Reglas / Rules

Cada competencia tiene sus propias reglas.

Reglas de la maratón

  1. Todas las observaciones pueden hacerse sólo desde el inicio del sábado 16 de octubre hasta el final del domingo 17 de octubre de 2010.
  2. Los equipos pueden inscribirse hasta el jueves 14 de octubre de 2010, 17:00.
  3. Cada equipo tendrá que constar de dos o más observadores.
  4. Se anima a los equipos a buscar sus patrocinadores (amigos, familiares, empresas locales).
  5. Las especies de aves pueden identificarse viéndolas y / o escuchándolas.
  6. Cualquier zona geográfica de cualquier tamaño pueden ser cubiertas, siempre y cuando se encuentra en El Salvador.
  7. Especies raras o de dificil identificación deben ser registradas al menos por dos miembros del equipo.
  8. Miembros del equipo tienen que estar juntos y tienen que reportar solo especies que observan como grupo. La división en unidades mas pequeñas para combinar los resultados no está permitido. También es mas divertido observar aves como grupo.
  9. Los resultados deben ser enviados a través de correo electrónico (john.vandort AT dentro de las 48 horas después del maratón.

Every competition has its own rules.

Birdathon rules

  1. All observations should be made between midnight the start of Saturday 16 October and midnight the end of Sunday 17 October 2010.
  2. Teams can register until Thursday 14 October 2010, 5 PM.
  3. Each team needs to consist of two or more observers.
  4. Teams are encouraged to find sponsors (friends, family, local businesses).
  5. Bird species can be identified by sight or sound.
  6. Any geographic area of any size can be covered, as long as it is in El Salvador.
  7. Rare or difficult to identify species should be observed by at least two team members.
  8. Team members need to stay together and report only species they observe as a group. Splitting up in smaller units and later combining results is not allowed.
  9. Results should be submitted through email (john.vandort AT within 48 hours after the birdathon.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Banding in Montecristo

If you have already donated to the SalvaNATURA birdathon, you are a sponsor of our permanent bird monitoring program, carried out in three national parks in El Salvador, and one biological reserve in Honduras (see previous post).

One of those three Salvadoran sites is National Park Montecristo, in northwestern El Salvador, near the borders with Guatemala and Honduras. At this site, two monitoring (banding) stations are operated: one in cloud forest, and one in pine-oak forest. Each month, a team of biologists from SalvaNATURA visits the site for 25 hours of mist-netting at each of the two stations. This week, I joined Roselvy Juárez and Carlos Zaldaña for the September pulse in Montecristo. We were there from Monday evening until Saturday morning. We were able to put in the 25 hours at the cloud forest station, but heavy rains curtailed our time at the pine-oak station. It is still the rainy season down here in Central America, and the weather forecast for this week is for prolonged periods of sometimes heavy rain. Hopefully things will lighten up a bit during the second half of the week, so we can go back to Montecristo and do the remaining 14 hours of banding at the pine-oak station.

Good! Today I want to share with the readers of this blog a look at how bird banding stations, including this one, operate. I have some footage of a bird being processed. It is not complete, for it doesn't show how the bird is removed from the mist-net for example, but it may give an idea of what kind of data is collected in our bird monitoring program. This is your donation dollars at work!

When a bird is removed from a mist-net, it is placed in a bird bag and carried back to the processing site. There, the bag with the bird inside is weighed...

Next, the bird is extracted, and the bag is weighed without the bird. Weight of bag plus bird minus weight of bag equals weight of bird, right? The bird, incidentally, is a Brown-backed Solitaire, a resident species of Central American pine-oak forest. It weighed 38.5 grams.

If the bird is unbanded, the first thing you want to do after removing it from the bag, is put on a coded bird band. This will allow the individual to be recognized the next time it is caught. Recaptures provide fascinating insights into the life history of birds. Resident birds like this Brown-backed Solitaire are banded with colored plastic bands that you can slide on in the manner shown here.

With the bird band on, some first data are recorded on a bird banding sheet. The code of the bander is noted, as well as the code of the bird band, the species' scientific name, and its weight. Other data collected include the time of capture, which mist-net, name of the station, the presence or absence of a brood patch, presence/absence of a cloacal protuberance, fat score, molt status of body and wings, wear of the primaries, and ossification of the skull.

As Roselvy is looking for plumage details in order to accurately age this bird, another individual of the same species can be heard singing in the background. Listen also for Roselvy's explanation - in Spanish - as to why this individual is a second-year bird...

Measuring the wing cord, i.e. the length of the closed wing from carpal or bend of the wing to the tip of the longest primary feather, is also standard procedure for processing a bird.

Pretty neat, huh?

For more photos of this particular banding trip, please go to our facebook page, where you will find a photo album called "September pulse, Montecristo". And if you want to support this program, please go here for instructions on how to do that. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Neotropical migrants

Red-eyed Vireo - Vireo olivaceus

It's September, and migration is in full swing, not only in North America but also down here in Central America. In this blog entry, I want to highlight some neotropical migrants, i.e. birds that breed in North America but winter in Central or South America. Some of those birds have already arrived on their wintering grounds, while others are still passing through.

SalvaNATURA's bird monitoring program operates five bird banding sites in El Salvador, and - since January 2010 - one in Honduras. These sites are part of a network of more than 140 bird banding stations that collectively pool data in an initiative called MoSI, or Monitoreo de Sobrevivencia Invernal (Monitoring Avian Winter Survival). MoSI sites are operated in 14 countries in the northern neotropics, from Mexico down to Colombia, and together provide important data on many neotropical migrants. The MoSI initiative is coordinated by the Institute for Bird Populations.

This past week, SalvaNATURA operated the Honduran MoSI site in Monte Uyuca, near the capital Tegucigalpa. Following standard MoSI protocol, we operated 16 mist nets for a total of 25 hours, resulting in 400 net hours. In this pulse, we caught, banded and released 82 birds of 22 species - including several neotropical migrants. All photos shown here are of birds banded during that pulse.

The bird at the top, an adult Red-eyed Vireo of course, winters in South America. We banded two individuals this week, this adult and a hatch-year bird. Other transients we saw but didn't encounter in our nets include two Blackburnian Warblers, a Canada Warbler, and several Wood-pewees. Combining resident and migrant warblers, we got to 15 species observed - not bad for a place that's not a 'migrant trap', just a small part of a pine-oak/cloud forest site called Reserva Biológica Monte Uyuca! The warbler list this week included Golden-cheeked Warbler, an endangered species that reaches relatively high densities here in the core of its wintering grounds, and one we hope to encounter in our mist nets one day. We also saw all three Wilsonia warblers; of these, Canada Warbler is a transient, Hooded Warbler is more common on the Atlantic Slope, and only Wilson's Warbler is the common winter visitor here.

Worm-eating Warbler - Helmitheros vermivora

The Worm-eating Warbler breeds on steep slopes of deciduous or mixed forests in the eastern United States, and winters in Mexico and Central America and the Caribbean. This species appears to be increasing in its large range and is currently considered of Least Concern by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Tennessee Warbler - Oreothlypis peregrina

Tennessee Warbler, here in first-winter plumage, is another species considered of Least Concern by IUCN, for it too has a large range, and populations appear to be stable.

Black-and-white Warbler - Mniotilta varia

 The Black-and-white Warbler breeds in the eastern United States and in many of the lower Canadian provinces. Its winter range includes Florida, coastal Texas, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and northern South America. Still an abundant species, its population trend, however, appears to be slowly declining (IUCN).

Swainson's Thrush - Catharus ustulatus

Another neotropical migrant, and an abundant winter visitor in Central America, is Swainson's Thrush.

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - Empidonax flaviventris

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher is one of the most common breeding birds of the Canadian boreal forest, yet remarkably little is known about many aspects of its life history, including its winter ecology.

Least Flycatcher - Empidonax minimus

Another empid we caught this week was Least Flycatcher. Note the proportionally large head, and, in comparison with its yellow-bellied congener, a darker head contrasting more with its whiter throat. This species has been better studied than Yellow-bellied Fly, although its winter ecology remains largely unstudied...

If you're a North American birder, then all these species are very likely most familiar to you. You welcome them back each spring as they pass through your area heading north, or arrive in your area to raise their young.

SalvaNATURA's bird monitoring program collects valuable data on these neotropical migrants, and contributes to our knowledge of their population trends and winter habitat preferences. If you believe in the value of this work, then please consider sponsoring our birdathon. All funds raised are used for SalvaNATURA's bird monitoring program.

How can I contribute
Sponsoring the birdathon is easy:
1) go to The Resource Foundation;
2) click on "Donate" on the right part of your screen, which opens a secure (https) connection;
3) select the amount you want to donate;
4) select whether you want to make a one-time donation or a recurring donation;
5) select "El Salvador - SalvaNATURA" in the pull-down menu called "Program Designation";
6) indicate in the "Dedication" that your donation benefits the "SalvaNATURA 2010 Birdathon";
7) send an email to the birdathon coordinator (john.vandort AT confirming your donation.

The Resource Foundation is a U.S. nonprofit organization that helps donors support effective, locally-driven development programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. Your donation through them is of course tax-deductible.

Thank you for your generosity!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Equipos de años pasados / Teams of previous years

Con un equipo que ya está formalmente inscrito en la competición de este año, he aquí un vistazo a algunos de los equipos de Maratón de los años pasados. Arriba, el equipo de Lety Andino y Jesse Fagan, que organizó la Maratón de Aves en los años anteriores.

With one team already formally entered in this year's competition, here's a look at some of the birdathon teams from recent years. At the top, the team of Lety Andino and Jesse Fagan, who organized the birdathon in recent years.

De izquierda a derecha (from left to right): Geovanni Garcia, Karla Lara, Ricardo Ibarra

De izquierda a derecha (from left to right): Guillermo Funes, Vicky Galán, Ivan Rivas

De izquierda a derecha (from left to right): Joe Taylor, Roselvy Juárez, Oliver Komar

Oscar Bolaños le explica a la prensa sobre la Maratón de Aves
Oscar Bolaños interviewed by the media about the birdathon

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

¡Reserva la fecha!

Myadestes unicolor - Clarín Unicolor (plumaje juvenil)
¡Reserva la fecha!
Muy pronto: octava edición de la Maratón de Aves organizado por SalvaNATURA!

Varios equipos tratarán de encontrar tantas especies de aves como les sea posible durante un fin de semana a mediados de octubre, en un esfuerzo de recaudación de fondos para el proyecto de monitoreo de aves de SalvaNATURA.


Sábado 16 y domingo 17 de octubre de 2010.

En cualquier lugar de El Salvador.


SalvaNATURA es una organización ambiental sin fines de lucro que trabaja por la protección y conservación de los recursos naturales de El Salvador y la región.

¿Por qué?

La conservación de las aves comienza con el conocimiento de la composición de especies y de sus tendencias demográficas. Con esto en mente, SalvaNATURA establece un proyecto de monitoreo de aves en noviembre de 2003 con cinco estaciones de anillamiento de aves en tres sitios: uno en el Parque Nacional El Imposible, dos en el Parque Nacional Los Volcanes, y dos en el Parque Nacional Montecristo. Durante las visitas mensuales desde noviembre de 2003 hasta diciembre de 2009, se han registrado 117.366 horas-red, y fueron anilladas en total de 203 especies de aves. Una captura sorprendente de 18.169 individuos, de los cuales 4.979 fueron recapturas, ya han proporcionado una gran cantidad de información sobre el estado de las aves en los parques nacionales de El Salvador. Desde su inicio en 2003, la Maratón de aves ha sido una fuente importante de financiamiento para el proyecto de monitoreo de aves, tú continuo apoyo asegurará que información valiosa de especies residentes y migratorias sea colectada.

¿Cómo puedo contribuir?

Patrocinar  la Maratón de aves es fácil:

Transferencia bancaria
Puede transferir su donación al número de cuenta bancaria de SalvaNATURA, que es:
BANCO AGRICOLA, cuenta #: 510-009836-4.
Por favor, no olvide mencionar que su donación es para apoyar la maratón de aves. También, envíe un correo al coordinador de la maratón de aves (john.vandort AT confirmando su donación.

Donación en línea
1) ir al sitio web The Resource Foundation;
2) haga clic en "Donate" en la parte derecha de la pantalla, lo que abre una conexión segura (https);
3) seleccione la cantidad que desea donar;
4) seleccione si desea hacer una donación única o una donación recurrente;

5) seleccione "El Salvador - SalvaNATURA" en el menú desplegable llamado "Program Designation";

6) indique en “Dedication” que su donación beneficia a "SalvaNATURA 2010 Birdathon”;
7) por favor, envíe un correo al coordinador de la maratón de aves (john.vandort AT confirmando su donación.

The Resource Foundation es una organización americana sin fines de lucro que ayuda a los donantes  apoyando efectivamente  los programas de desarrollo local en América Latina y el Caribe. Su donación a través de ellos es deducible de impuestos.

Gracias por su generosidad!

Por favor, revise este blog periódicamente para actualizaciones y más información.