Las Aves de Cali- Colombia (The birds of Cali- Colombia)

(La traducción al Español está por debajo de la sección en Inglés)

Living in Cali- Colombia is an opportunity that I am happy to have experienced in my life. As someone born and raised in Los Angeles Cali-fornia, the city life is something that I am very familiar with, but unlike Los Angeles, in the city of Cali you wake up to the sound of wild parrots flying overhead each morning! When I recently arrived I was puzzled to hear an unfamiliar call each night, I thought to myself that it was strange that a bird would be calling/singing at night. To my surprise, I was told it was not a bird- it was a non-native gecko (Lepididactylus lugubris)! Since then, I try to catch a glimpse of the little geckos, but they are very shy and my excitement for them is not appreciated.


The first bird that I identified from outside my host families living room window was the very noisy great kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus). The great kiskadee is a large flycatcher, a very beautiful and common bird here in Cali. Just like the varied thrushes’ songs bring my nostalgia for my time in Cordova- Alaska, I know the sound of the great kiskadee will be the bird that reminds me of my time here in the city of Cali. Aside from the great kisadee, there are numerous other species that I have never seen in my life that I frequently observe in the city, as I walk to work at the Calidris Associations office. The ruddy ground dove (Columbina talpacoti) is a small New World tropical dove that fascinates me every time I see it. Not only because it reminds me of the doves of my city, but due to its size! These little doves, just like the least sandpipers I saw in Cordova, trigger an amusement due to their size, measuring about 17 cm (~6.7 in) in length! Other common birds that I see in the city are blue-gray tanagers (Thraupis episcopus), saffron finchs (Sicalis flaveola), vermilion flycatchers (Pyrocephalus rubinus), and smooth-billed anis (Crotophaga ani)


It’s a whole new ball game when you step out of the city. I had the opportunity to do so this weekend and wow, I am speechless! The amount of diversity and beauty exceeds that of my childhood dreams. My dreams that were derived from books and documentaries based in Colombia- South America were now my reality. Accompanying me was Jeisson who works as a biological field technician with Calidris and is an amazing birder, and Jo Se a biologist and friend of Jeisson’s. Throughout our 7 hour birding adventure Jeisson made sure to document all of our bird encounters. We came to a total of 62 species, of which 61 of these species were new to me (lifers). I share with you a few photographs that I took of my lifers:

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Thank you for reading and stay tuned to hear about my adventure with Calidris during their first every Rail Rally in Colombia!

Rally flyer



Poder vivir en la ciudad de Cali – Colombia es una experiencia que me hace feliz. Como alguien nacida y criada en Los Angeles California, la vida de la ciudad es algo con que estoy muy familiarizada pero, a diferencia de Los Angeles, ¡en la ciudad de Cali me despierto con el grito de los loros silvestres volando sobre la casa cada mañana! Cuando recién llegué me quedé perpleja al escuchar una llamada extraña cada noche, me dije a mí misma ¿que será ese extraño pájaro que canta cada noche? Pero para mi sorpresa, me dijeron que no era un pájaro, ¡era una lagartija (Lepididactylus lugubris) que no son nativas a Colombia! Desde entonces, intento mirar a las pequeñas lagartijas, pero son muy tímidas y mi emoción no es apreciada por ellas.


La primer ave que identifique desde la ventana de la primera familia que me adoptó durante mi pasantía (Fernando y Diana) fue el muy ruidoso Pitangus sulphuratus. Pitangus sulphuratus es un gran atrapamoscas, muy hermoso y un ave común aquí en Cali. Al igual que la canción de Ixoreus naevius que me trae nostalgia de mi tiempo en Cordova, Alaska, sé que el llamado de Pitangus sulphuratus será el ave que me recordará de mi aventura aquí en Cali. Aparte de Pitangus sulphuratus, hay muchas otras especies que nunca he visto en mi vida que se observan con frecuencia en la ciudad y durante el camino a la oficina de la Asociación Calidris. Columbina talpacoti, es una pequeña paloma/tortolita del nuevo mundo tropical que me fascina cada vez que la veo. No sólo porque me recuerda a las palomas/tortolitas de mi ciudad, sino también por su tamaño. Estas pequeñas palomas/tortolitas al igual que Calidris minutilla que vi en Cordova, desencadenan una admiración debido a su tamaño de 17 cm (6.7 pulgadas) de longitud. Otras aves comunes que he visto en la ciudad son Thraupis episcopus, Sicalis flaveola, Pyrocephalus rubinus y Crotophaga ani.


Es completamente diferente al salir de la ciudad. Tuve la oportunidad de vivirlo este fin de semana, y ¡guau, no tengo palabras para explicarlo! La cantidad de diversidad y belleza supera a la de mis sueños de infancia. Mis sueños que derivan de los libros y documentales basados en Colombia – Sur de América son ahora mi realidad. Durante este viaje de aventura para observar aves me acompañó Jeisson, quien trabaja como biólogo con Calidris y es un increíble pajarero, también fue Jo Sé un biólogo que es amigo de Jeisson. Durante nuestra aventura de siete horas, Jeisson registró todas las aves que observamos. Llegando a un total de 62 especies, de las cuales ¡61 eran nuevas para mí (lifer)! Comparto con ustedes algunas fotografías que he tomado de mis “lifers”:


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¡Muchas gracias por leer y continúen atentos para aprender sobre mi aventura con Calidris durante el primer Rally de Rálidos en Colombia!
Rally flyer


Open a New World

International Migratory Bird Day, Bird Day, Bird Festival, bird fest, Dia de las Aves Migratorias, Dia de las Aves, festival de aves

The International Migratory Bird Day 2014 poster theme- Why Birds Matter.

International Migratory Bird Day, Bird Day, Bird Festival, bird fest, Dia de las Aves Migratorias, Dia de las Aves, festival de aves

Dia Internacional de las Aves Migratorias 2014 afiche. International Migratory Bird Day poster.

Driving on my way home one day I received the important phone call from Natasha Kerr, the Celebrate Shorebirds internship coordinator. She called to let me know they decided to  offer me the position. I was shocked and I’m pretty sure Natasha could tell. After the initial muteness I said yes and she congratulated me and I said thank you and so on. Immediately after I had hung up the phone I started yelling with jubilee and and thrusting around in elation, could you imagine what that would look like when you’re stuck in traffic? But who wouldn’t react this way- right? After all I had been struggling to get my foot in the door after college, and now I’m staring what could be the catapult into an amazing career.

It was the metaphorical stepping through into a new world, and just like that I hit the floor running taking on the Back to School Night event at the Ridge Creek Mobile Home Community all by myself. I was running the International Migratory Bird Day 2014 themed activity- Why Birds Matter. This year’s IMBD theme focuses on the ecosystem services birds provide. I played the “Who AM I” bird game and colored masks with children. I met representatives of the CU Natural History Museum, Boulder and Lafayette Open space; Coordinators, activist, volunteers, parents and students all which shared this great moment in their community, and I was part of it! I felt like at last I was doing something I could go hang my hat on, and not go home feeling unaccomplished. I realize that in the grand scheme of things, from an outsiders perspective, teaching young children about birds might not look like a great achievement, but there is where the outsider is wrong. I understand the impact that all of us educators had on the life of those kids on that fall night.

EFTA table at Back to School event in Lafayette, CO

EFTA table at Back to School event in Lafayette, CO

During the event, I was telling my newly made friend Martin, from Lafayette Open Space, about the fact that later that week I was going birding for the first time. He told me numerous things about birding of which I probably couldn’t remember now, but there was one thing he said that resonated in me so clearly and now in my second week of my internship, I see it becoming a theme. He said “Birding will open up a new world, that you didn’t even know was there” and it did. Not only that, this internship opened a new world, the world where we actively engage in and acknowledge what matters, see Martin had hit it on the head; I had walked around not realizing that I myself could have been advocating for the voiceless all along, the birds, the habitats they live in, and the critters they share it with. The new world is there and very visible, the question is, will you step through for yourself and all the ‘others’ that depend on it?

Going South for the Winter

My time in Newport has come to an end, but thanks to Environment for the Americas my adventure in Oregon is still on the horizon. I was invited to work under the auspices of Klamath Bird Observatory to band birds during the Fall migration. Within the world of ornithology, KBBO is a powerhouse of scientific data purposed for the conservation of migratory bird species. Research coming out of the center contributes to understanding the habitat needs of wildlife, resulting in the publication of bird databases, the development of policy suggestions for documents like the upcoming State of the Birds report, the founding of citizen science projects, and the creation of education programs. Knowing their dedication to a higher caliber of science, I’m incredibly happy to be involved with KBBO projects on migratory birds. The Shorebird surveys of the EFTA Internship was a great segue into learning about the biology of birds through field research with KBBO. It is humbling to know that both EFTA and KBBO have confidence in my birding experience and skills to take on the task of catching and banding birds. Packing my bags in Newport was done with much anticipation for what lied ahead.

Bolting from the coast to the land they call “Southern Oregon” was a trip, to say the least; as soon as I passed the Cascades it was hard to believe that I was still in the same state, let alone the same continent. Within thirty minutes the landscape changed drastically. In place of lush temperate rain forests, violently windblown headlands, and the lingering scent of wet mud were conifers sparsely clinging to towering cliff sides, scrub and bush sucking the land dry, and the haze of dust getting flung up by pick-up trucks zipping down highway 97. Coming from D.C., where the humidity stubbornly reminds nature’s conquerors of the swamplands it once derived from, my body craves moisture. In Newport, as wet as it is, I already felt the strain of a dryer climate on my skin, leading me to immediately invest in a bottle of heavy duty moisturizer. Now that I’m in Klamath I realize that I am a wimp–the additional three bottles of Cocoa Butter in my shopping cart last week confirms that I am indeed in a new, much dryer, place and there’s a lot of new things yet to learn and discover about Oregon.

We didn’t spare any time. En route to Klamath Falls my friend and I stopped by Bend, Oregon to hike in Smith Rock State Park. It seemed too easy to not take advantage of. The route between Newport and Klamath practically invited us to take the mountainous detour; we would only be 45 minutes away. The park was epic, with lots of scenic views and trails for all sorts of recreational activities. In one path alone we crossed paths with birders, rock climbers, mountaineers, tourists, photographers, and adrenaline junkies hurling themselves off of the cliff side with a harnessed pulley system. The last of these outdoorist groups kindly dared us to take a leap. Cautiously scanning the drop from Smith Rock to the hiking trails [what seemed like] thousands of feet below, I decided against the impulsive temptation: I had places to go and birds to band.

The destination was a U.S. Fish & Wildlife cabin tucked away in mountainous forest alongside a big lake. I imagine a real estate agent would describe the place as “rustic.” It’s made of all wood, with cute little windows, picnic tables outside in the yard, and a back porch. Inside there is aged furniture to lounge on and an abundance of birding books, everywhere! It’s practically a birder’s dream here. There’s all sorts of cool birds that I’ve never seen before that hang out right outside our windows and all of the resources you can imagine available to you to identify them. On the drive in I already saw six species that were new to me. Little did I know what the next week would bring…

To be continued. Maybe there will be some bird pictures, maybe some videos…I hope the anticipation doesn’t kill you. Tune in soon.

Bird on!

As time unfolds into good-byes

Well here we go! The hectic week I have been anticipating for months now is finally over! I finished my first week of college. YAY ME! I not only realize that I am a full time student, full time EFTA employee, but also an employee at the college student life center. I don’t really know when I truly get to sleep but somehow I manage to get everything done and still have time to plan for the festival and some time for family too.

This week our shorebird surveys ended =( Which is sad but, it means that winter is that much closer. I love winter! It also means that the festival is only two weeks away. YIKES!! I am not sure I am ready, but I am excited to see what the turn out will be. We have all of our ducks in a row and are now just waiting for the day. I also received good news that I will have a job with Jill and Sue again next year which is super exciting because I absolutely love working for them. However, they  have exposed me to sooooo many experiences and opportunities in the science field that I now ponder my choice in being a major for agricultural business.  I must say, out of everything I have encountered in this job the best part has been the experience and memories that have traveled the path with me. There is nothing in this world that can compare to the bonding moments that “Team Bug” has.

Help me count down the weeks until our festival is finally here! This past weekend marks 1 week. WOOOOOHOOOO!!!

Your birds are our birds too, P.II

Let’s recap. Through these posts you have seen that birds are: fun inspiration for games (yay!), way too cute for our good, scientifically interesting, and just ridiculously cool. Did you know, that birds are cultural too?

Woah, I know, it’s crazy. Allow me to explain…

Back in June I was contacted by an elementary school located from a town right outside of Bogotá, Colombia. The request was simple: “Do you know of a school that would like to make contact with us to talk about birds?”

Turns out, there was, in fact, such a school, and that school was right here in Philomath, Oregon. While coming from two completely different schools, countries, and even continents, they had a common connection. What, you might ask? If you can’t get the implication by now, I worry a bit for you, but I’ll help you out: BIRDS! This school in Usme has a neat program where they seek out connections with North American schools based on the shared wildlife. In turn, our Philomath-ian students were participants of the USFWS Shorebird Sister School Program, and have a whole semesters-worth of knowledge about migrating shorebirds. The opportunity was ripe and ready for the picking.

The result: these fantastic videos, prepared by our friends in Usme, Bogotá Colombia and our colleagues in Philomath, Oregon. I hope you enjoy, and take it as a testament to the power of birds to connect people far and wide.

First up: a video from the Eduardo Umaña Mendoza School addressed to Philomath Elementary:

And to follow: the response from Philomath Elementary to the Eduardo Umaña Mendoza School: