From the 14th to 19th of November 2016, the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF) hosted bird expert Dr. Adrian Delnevo to lead a bird identification training.
Bird watching has become a multi-billion dollar industry in the Caribbean alone, from which the SCF hopes Saba can benefit. With the intent to take advantage of this thriving industry, SCF Parks Manager Kai Wulf, SCF Trail Ranger James Johnson, and SCF Marine Park Ranger Jelle van der Velde , along with Saba local Luke Hassell, learned how to guide and inform inquisitive tourists through the trails of Saba to identify some of the special bird species that live on Saba.
The group spent hours studying the different local and migratory species and their characteristics, and then later identified and explored many bird watching locations around the island. On their exploratory hikes, the group found many locally rare and elusive birds, such as the Bridled Quail Dove, Brown Trembler, Caribbean Elaenia, Black Whiskered Vireo and even a Peregrine Falcon. An easy way to get a close look at the Red-billed Tropicbird was also considered, as this bird is globally endangered but Saba has one of the largest breeding populations, making it a must-see for many visiting birdwatchers.
Lastly, the group also discussed the challenges the birds face in terms of survival by using the extirpated (a term meaning locally extinct) White-tailed Tropicbird as an example. The main way bird watchers can help these bird populations is by collecting data on the variety and amount of birds on Saba. This helps the SCF to get an accurate idea of how their numbers are fluctuating. The different ways to gather data was also explored with methods differing according to the terrain of the different locations.
Overall, the training was a great success. The participants felt confident that visiting birdwatchers would be satisfied with the diversity and ease of finding even the most elusive species of birds on the Caribbean’s Unspoiled Queen.