As our migrating birds make their journey to their wintering grounds to the south, I wonder: how many of us know where they go, and who will appreciate them when they get there? A large percentage of the songbirds we love are heading for Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. And while most of us can’t accompany our feathered friends on their journey south or meet them at their destination, we can be assured people at those locations, right this very minute, are eagerly anticipating their return.
[caption id="attachment_5607" align="alignleft" width="328" caption="Birders Exchange binoculars in use at the summer camp in the Botanical garden in Santo Domingo, 2012"][/caption]
So, who can claim these birds as family? Who keeps track of them? Who studies, monitors, and helps protect them? People on both ends of the itinerary: you and I, of course, but also conservationists, researchers, and educators. In many Latin American countries, these groups lack the resources for the most basic equipment, optics and otherwise, with which to do their good work. That’s where Birders’ Exchange comes in!
Birders’ Exchange supplies optics, books, digital cameras and sound recording equipment, laptops, and other new and used donated tools to researchers, educators, university students, and children‘s programs throughout the Neotropics.
Recipients are people who are conserving both migratory and resident birds, protecting some of the most ecologically important habitats, discovering new species to science, and teaching children about the value of birds, one of the earth’s most precious resources. Recipients have immense pride in their environment and understand its importance and value.
What began as a small, optics “recycling” program at the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences in 1990, Birders’ Exchange has become the major conservation initiative of the American Birding Association. Eagle Optics is one of the many proud supporters of this project, and you can be, too.
You may send in donations of aforementioned items, or act as a courier to deliver equipment if your travel plans include destinations where recipients are waiting.
If you are part of a birding club, consider organizing an equipment drive! The Birders’ Exchange page on the ABA
[caption id="attachment_5589" align="alignright" width="265" caption="Collared Aracari photo by Ben Lizdas"][/caption]
website tells you how. There is a 7-minute video, an excellent overview of the Birders’ Exchange program, which is available to you to show to your bird club, or to any other appropriate gathering. Contact Birders’ Exchange for information, questions, and comments.
It benefits us all when we strengthen the connection with our birding partners in the Neotropics. In the coming weeks, they will be welcoming the birds that we’ve been enjoying here since spring. By supporting Birders’ Exchange, together we can empower grassroots research, conservation, and environmental education in Latin America and the Caribbean. Please consider a donation of money or equipment to this worthy endeavor.
Eagle Optics Staff
Binoculars: Bring them. See what they bring you.