Tue | Sep 25, 2018

A year of hurricane relief for Caribbean birds and nature

Published:Sunday | September 9, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Students on Dominica with their bird feeders.

It was one year ago that devastating hurricanes hit the region. Throughout the region, many are reflecting on a year of trials and triumphs. People united to help each other recover and rebuild. They also found time to aid birds and the wild spaces they depend on.

BirdsCaribbean - a non-profit that works throughout the region - sprang into action after the storms. The Caribbean is home to hundreds of unique birds found nowhere else in the world. Many live on just one island, and many are threatened. Storms like Irma and Maria are very dangerous to species already living on the edge.

Strong winds tore flowers, fruits, and seeds from trees, leaving no food for many birds. BirdsCaribbean organised supplies to help feed them on 18 islands. Over 4,000 bird feeders and five tons of bird seed were distributed on these islands so that people could help birds in their communities. For many, a backyard bird feeder was both a chance to help and a spot of joy during a difficult time.

BirdsCaribbean also started a fundraising campaign that has raised over $125,000 from over 500 donors in the past year. This Hurricane Relief Fund supports many post-hurricane activities to help birds. Researchers have been sent to check for rare birds on hard-hit islands like Barbuda. Equipment was sent to help teams working with Dominica's two native parrot species.

Many projects are ongoing. Groups on many islands are working to restore natural habitat for the benefit of birds, other wildlife, and people. Healthy forests and coasts reduce the damage caused by hurricanes. On St Martin, a group has started a plant nursery to provide trees for bird-friendly backyards. On many islands, researchers are studying how these storms impacted birds and nature.

A year of hard work has made a big difference for the birds of the region. Like every aspect of the recovery, that work continues. BirdsCaribbean's Hurricane Relief Fund is still accepting donations and funding projects. For more information, visit http://www.birdscaribbean.org.