Free festival is for the birds

The International Migratory Bird Festival will be held on Saturday, Jan. 18 

Nature lovers and bird enthusiasts are invited to celebrate the return of migrating birds to the Cayman Islands this month.  

The International Migratory Bird Festival, hosted by the National Trust, is free and open to the public from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, at Dart Family Park in South Sound.  

The main aim of the festival is to encourage bird watching among residents and visitors, while educating the public on the importance of conservation for the habitats of birds in the Cayman Islands. 

“Most migratory species in the Caribbean breed and nest in North America during the summer and spend their winter in warmer areas like the Cayman Islands,” said Paul Watler, environmental programs manager for the National Trust.  

“Understanding the life cycles of these migratory birds, individuals can better understand how different habitats are crucial for survival and that many of the birds they see and love are only passing through for a short period of time each year,” he added. 

A highlight of the day’s activities is a workshop by Yves-Jacques Rey-Millet, illustrator of “Photographic Guide to the Birds of the Cayman Islands,” which was written by Patricia Bradley. 

Other activities at the park include face painting, binocular crafts and demonstrations, bird identification workshop and migration stations.  

There will also be a display of bird books and other merchandise on sale, as well as an assortment of snacks and beverages.  

A celebration  

“Migratory birds travel thousands of miles to visit our shores each year and the bird festival is a networking and educational opportunity for the community to celebrate these seasonal visitors and their amazing journey,” said Christina Pineda, the Trust’s executive director.  

In the spirit of International Migratory Birds Day, the Trust is challenging families to “get outside and enjoy nature,” by joining the Trust’s nature bird walk at 4.30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19, at the Agriculture show grounds in Lower Valley. The Trust recommends all walkers bring binoculars, drinking water and hats.  

The International Bird Festival and the nature bird walk both complement the exhibition “Passing Through” at the National Museum which will be showing until May 2014.  

For more information on bird watching, as well as volunteer or sponsorship opportunities, email [email protected] or call 749-1121. 

Black-throated Blue - Yves Jacquet Rey-Millet copy

The Black-throated Blue Warbler is a migrant to the Cayman Islands. – Photos: Yves-Jacques Rey-Millet