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The 9th annual Caribbean Waterbird Census (CWC)

The 9th annual Caribbean Waterbird Census (CWC) is starting this weekend! Join Bonaire birders in helping to conserve Caribbean waterbirds by counting birds at one of the island’s local wetlands or shorelines in the coming weeks.

Recent hurricanes impacted bird populations in the Caribbean.

Given the hurricanes which impacted so many islands across the region this past fall, participation is particularly important this year. There have been many reports from around the Caribbean of unusual sightings in waterbird diversity and numbers. Common birds are notably missing from their usual wetlands in some countries, while birds are showing up in large numbers elsewhere, including Bonaire. Help us to document the impacts of severe weather on bird numbers and movements!

When do I bird to take part in the Caribbean Waterbird Census on Bonaire?

In 2018, the main three-week count period will start on Sunday, January 14, and end on Saturday, February 3. This includes three weekends and World Wetlands Day on February 2.

What is the Caribbean Waterbird Census?

The CWC is a region-wide waterbird and wetland monitoring program sponsored by BirdsCaribbean. The goal of this program is to learn more about the distribution, status, and abundance of waterbirds in the Caribbean to improve conservation and management of these beautiful birds and their habitats. Each year, one region-wide count is organized in which everyone counts at the same time during the middle of winter (when birds are most stationary) to get a “snapshot” of waterbird population numbers and habitat use throughout the Caribbean. This helps determine which wetlands are most important and how populations are changing from year to year. Every year the census brings new knowledge and hope, for instance, increasing numbers of wintering migrants, new areas colonized by local populations, new wetland gems discovered and old ones recovered. Every blue dot on the map shows where volunteers have taken part in the International Waterbird Census in the years since 1967. Note the great participation from Bonaire’s region!

How can I participate in the 2018 Caribbean Waterbird Census?

Joining the CWC is easy and fun, and everyone is welcome. Even if you are not an avid birdwatcher, you can help with your observations.

First, find a wetland to survey.

There are many areas on Bonaire, including freshwater, saltwater, and brackish wetlands, mangrove swamps, tidal flats, mud flats, and rocky and sandy beaches. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Road to Cai at Lac Bay
  • Cargill Salt Works
  • Gotomeer
  • Boka Slagbaai
  • Playa Frans

Second, decide what type of count best fits your ability and wetland location.

Most of Bonaire’s visitors will use a Level 1 Area or Point Count (view Level 1 protocols).

Third, head out and start counting the birds you see!

Visit your wetland of choice at least once during the count period and conduct your CWC count, doing your best to identify and count all birds in your area.

Finally, enter your data into eBird Caribbean.

Visit eBird Caribbean’s website, and open a free account if you don’t already have one.  Then, enter in your data for your bird counts.  On Step 2 “Date and Effort” page, be sure to choose either the “CWC Point Count” or “CWC Area Search” observation type to enter your data.


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Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 



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