In October, the Amazon Conservation Association (ACA) will host its third Birdathon, a fund-raising event benefitting conservation efforts along the buffer zone of the Manu National Park. This location in the southeastern Peruvian Amazon is known for its immense diversity of bird species. Participants in the 2012 event spotted an astonishing 422 species, an increase of over 70 species from the 2011 event!
What in the world is a Birdathon?
ACA's Birdathon is an event in which a group of conservationist birders travel a route from the highlands to the lowlands within (and just outside) the buffer zone of Manu National Park, while counting the number of bird species they see. Their goal is to support conservation of southeast Peru’s globally important forests and the birds dependent on them, and seek sponsors to pledge an amount per bird seen or to make a donation to the event. All funds raised go to ACA to further ongoing conservation efforts.
Who does this?
Life-long conservationist and avid birder Craig Thompson leads the Birdathon, traveling from La Crosse, Wisconsin to the Amazon rainforests of Peru along with 10 other participants. As the coordinator of the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative's International Committee, he has been organizing and leading birding trips to the neotropics for the past 20 years. Like the birds they study, Thompson and participants migrate down to bird wintering grounds in Peru. The connection between the neotropics and Wisconsin is a strong one; over half of Wisconsin’s 238 species of breeding birds winter within the tropical latitudes.
Where in the world?
The intrepid birders stop at ACA’s Wayqecha Cloud Forest Biological Station and Villa Carmen Biological Station, a property purchased with the help of the American Bird Conservancy and which offers refuge for countless rare and endangered birds. This area, where the eastern slopes of the Andes meet the Amazonian lowlands, boasts an exceptional array of habitats sustaining a vast number of bird species. Along the way, the group may see s species such as the Giant Hummingbird (“the Schwarzenegger of hummingbirds”), the Cock-of-the Rock, Gray-breasted Mountain Toucan, or the Undulated Tinamou.
What can I do to help?
You can support the 2014 Birdathoners through a one-time donation online or via check! To root on the birders in these ways, please give "Birdathon" as the online designation or write it on the check's memo line. You can also make a per-species pledge, with a chance to win a free copy of Birds of Peru if you correctly guess the final species count! Through generous donations, Wisconsin birders exceeded their $20,000 goal for the 2012 Birdathon and raised over $30,000!
All funds raised go to ACA to support bird conservation in the buffer zone of Manu National Park. Please follow us for updates regarding next year’s Birdathon, and other opportunities to make a tax-deductible donation throughout the year. If you are interested in being a participant in next year’s Birdathon event, please send us an email at .
Why is it so important?
Conserving such an important biodiversity hotspot as the southeastern Peruvian Andes-Amazon region is critical to safeguarding bird diversity. By conserving these areas we provide a space for North American and Neotropical birds to thrive while simultaneously supporting the livelihoods of local peoples that rely on the ecosystem services these forests provide.
See a sampling of the birds seen at Wayqecha on YouTube!
These are the rules the birders will follow when coming up with the total trip bird count:
Craig Thompson, intrepid leader of ACA's Inaugural Birdathon. Photo: Mary Thompson
Amethyst-throated Sunangel (Heliangelus amethysticollis) at ACA's Wayqecha Biological Station. Photo: Trond Larsen
Andean Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus) along the Manu road. Photo: Trond Larsen
Golden-collared Tanager (Iridosornis jelskii) at Wayqecha. Photo: Francisco Llacma
Masked Flowerpiercer (Diglossa cyanea) at Wayqecha. Photo: Trond Larsen
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