From August 11th to the 22nd of 2011, the Amazon Conservation Association (ACA) hosted its first-ever Birdathon to raise awareness about the diversity of bird species found in Peru and to help protect their imperiled habitat around Manu National Park.
Every year, millions of birds make the long journey from Wisconsin to their wintering grounds in the Amazon. This year, 13 bird lovers made the same journey, led by life-long conservationist and avid birder, Craig Thompson. With the goal of spotting as many species as possible during their trip, participants set out for the Wayqecha Cloud Forest and the Villa Carmen biological stations, both located alongside Manu and managed by ACA’s Peruvian sister organization, ACCA.
Travelling from Wayqecha to Villa Carmen, the climate changes dramatically as the landscape sweeps from snow-capped mountains to the treeless plains and dry valleys of the altiplano before making a sudden descent into steep cloud forests and the broad expanse of the low-lying Amazon floodplain. This topographic complexity has resulted in an exceptional array of habitats that sustain a vast number of bird species. According to Craig Thompson, “It was the greatest adventure we‘ve had, nothing short of mind-boggling” and “a colossal hoot.”
During this year’s Birdathon, Craig and his group saw a combined total of 348 species– not a bad number for less than two weeks! (In comparison, only 409 bird species have ever been seen in Wisconsin.) Moreover, the enthusiastic group helped raise more than $16,800 to support ACA’s work to protect bird habitat in this critical region. Watch a video of Craig Thompson talking about the Birdathon at Wayqecha here.
We at ACA are working tirelessly to protect these valuable habitats through a variety of efforts, including sustainable livelihood and conservation initiatives with local communities, creation of new conservation areas, and conservation-focused research at our biological stations. Over the next two years, we aim to protect another 476,000 acres of forest in this region.
“We were grateful for the opportunity to experience ACA’s project sites and meet the people making it happen. We’re also eager to continue to help save ‘the greatest rainforest on Earth.'” – Birdathon 2011 participant