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Training Children and Youth as Bird Watchers of the Amazon-Andes Transition Region

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The kindi, or hummingbird, is a spiritual messenger who always has something to tell us when he is present; that is the belief of some of the indigenous communities of the department of Putumayo in the Colombian Amazon-Andes transition region. In 2018, ACT, with funding from Nature’s Path, has undertaken a study of the birds of this territory, which is home to more than 50% of the species that exist in Colombia, which in turn is the most world’s most diverse country with respect to these species. This significance is reaffirmed by the efforts of Colombian regional environmental authorities, including Corpoamazonía, to negotiate the establishment of a Special Area of ​​Importance of Bird Conservation known as the “Trampolín de las Aves” (“Trampoline of the Birds”).

Our work takes place in the village community of Las Planadas in the municipality of Mocoa, where the Casa de Encuentro Chagra de la Vida, the headquarters of the Association of Indigenous Women (ASOMI), joins the efforts of the Alas Putumayo association to create a meeting and learning space for a group of 23 indigenous children and youths and as well as non-indigenous youth from this rural area.

“Exploring our Territory through Birds” is the name of the initial training cycle through which Alas Putumayo has motivated the group to study the different habitats of the birds of Putumayo. The richness of this foothills region with respect to the presence of birds is due to the local intersection of the Andean mountain range and the Amazon plains region.

At the beginning of the process, most of the children of the group only partially knew their community, and had not even traveled through the neighboring village communities. Among the achievements of the group is the expansion of their vision of the territory through walking and birding. They come to understand that birding is walking the land along the flight path of the birds, admiring their beauty, awakening to the awareness of their value, and feeling the need to care for their wellbeing.

In addition to the generation of local capacities in a young population, in 2018, under the leadership of Alas Putumayo, progress was made in the drafting of a bird guide for the 21-hectare ASOMI site and its surroundings, serving as a contribution to knowledge of the birds of the area and its dissemination to the inhabitants and potential visitors.

Please watch this video to learn more about our Exploring Our Territory Through Birds program

This is a pioneering process in Mocoa, because no prior environmental education activities had been carried out with local children on the subject of birds. In 2019, the project partners will seek to continue generating citizen knowledge regarding bird biodiversity through the efforts of the new generations, who will receive training in the recording and management of bird species databases. Additionally, with the hope of turning this into a bird-friendly area, we will work with local children and their families to convert their homes into places where food, nesting sites and shelter for birds are encouraged through the planting of special botanical species and the establishment of feeders. In addition, the understanding of how the coexistence of birds and cultures occurs is important for a full understanding of the territory, and that is also being explored with the group.

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