October 27, 2020

Birds are fascinating


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Birds are fascinating. They are beautiful, they are all around us, they roost and nest on our buildings and trees and feed in our gardens. They are easy to find and fun to watch. Here in Cayman we don’t have to travel to a tropical island (we can if we want to of course) to see some of the world’s most beautiful species. They are already here and are easy to love.

One easy way to observe them up close is to have a birdhouse. You can buy or build your own. Constructing one is relatively cheap and can provide hours of entertainment even after the project is completed.

Then there is the posture of a bird. Believe it or not, birds perch differently. For example, a Flycatcher perches vertically (straight up and down) when on a branch while a Vireo perches horizontally (almost lying down) when on the same branch.

Many people have learned to love birds. If you are one of them or simply want to further understand these wonderful creatures, you may look into several bird databases available online. Avibase (http://avibase.bsc-eoc.org/) is one type of the biggest bird databases. It is very extensive and tackles almost all types of birds in the world. It boasts of around 2 million records of 10,000 species of birds. It can even go into detail such as the subspecies.

Generally, bird databases are very easy to use. You just have to enter a bird name, in any language, and the database will be able to generate information about it. In most cases, you can break down your search if you have further details on what you want to research. Downloads are also possible. Moreover, some bird databases are not just sources of scientific and technical information but are also sources of information about advocacy work that has to do with the protection of birds. So if you want to join a worthy cause for the protection of birds but do not know where to go, you might want to consult one or more of these databases.

There are approximately 230 known species of birds living in the Cayman Islands. Some of the common groups are grebes, shearwaters, petrels, tropicbirds, pelicans, boobies, gannets, cormorants, darters, frigatebirds, bitterns, herons, egrets, ibises, spoo-nbills, flamingos, ducks, geese, swans, new world vultures, osprey, hawks, kites, eagles, caracaras, flacons, rails, crakes, gallinules, roots, avocets, stilts, plovers, lapwings, sandpipers, skuas, jaegers, gulls, terns, skimmers, pigeons, doves, parrots, macaws, cuckoos, anis, barn owls, typical owls, nightjars, swifts, hummingbirds, kingfishers, woodpeckers, tyrant fly-catchers, swallows, martins, waxwings, mockingbirds, thrashers, thrushes, gnatcatchers, starlings, vireos, new world warblers, bananaquit, tanagers, buntings, sparrows, seedeaters, saltators, cardinals and troupials.

To identify these birds purchase a good pair of binoculars. They will turn a mediocre bird watching experience into a great one.

Bird watching is a fantastic hobby suitable for individuals of all ages. Further contributing to this bird watching and environmentalist haven, the National Trust for the Cayman Islands manages a 180-acre parrot reserve in Cayman Brac, on the Brac’s distinctive Bluff, for the indigenous Cayman Brac parrot. The National Trust also operates single-species conservation programmes for both the Brac parrot and the native Grand Cayman parrot – both sub species of the Cuban parrot.

Little Cayman boasts the striking and red-footed boobies that are protected and the Island’s most important wildlife habitat, the Booby Pond Reserve. The National Trust are the primary owners and the reserve ensures the area will not be disturbed or threatened by commercial development as the island grows. This 204 acre site, comprising of a saltwater pond and surrounding mangrove habitat, is home to the largest breeding colonies of red-footed boobies in the Western Hemisphere (an estimated 5,000 nesting pairs), a massive frigatebird colony and a
 large heronry.

The local Bird Club organises watching expeditions. The National trust office will be able to provide assistance if you are interested.The casual vacationing bird watcher and the elite birder in search of the magnificent frigatebird, the unique avian species and spectacular natural beauty of our three islands combine to make a memorable bird-watching experience for all 
interest levels.

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