Birds are ideal environmental education “tools” to help connect people to the natural world, as they are visible almost everywhere, and they attract our attention through their bright colours, beautiful songs and interesting behaviours. Further, birds are indicator species, which means they are a powerful measure of the health of a given ecosystem. Through our bird-focused environmental education and research programs at Finca Cántaros, we teach participants about the natural history of local birds, but our most important goal is to foster both appreciation for these species and motivation to help protect their habitat. These programs include:
Finca Cántaros implements the BirdSleuth International curriculum, a science and environmental education curriculum developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology aimed at engaging students in learning about birds, habitat and citizen science, thanks to funding from our strong local collaborator the San Vito Bird Club.
Finca Cántaros has partnered with the Bateman Foundation (Canada) and their Nature Sketch program to implement activities that engage students in observing and appreciating nature and wildlife through the lens of art. Such activities include a mix of close observation and art techniques such as using shapes, values and texture to capture one’s natural surroundings, with a particular emphasis on birds. We are currently planning a collaborative exchange activity in which students from Costa Rica and Canada will share their art of local birds and their experiences observing and drawing the diversity in their respective countries.
Finca Cántaros offers the community the chance to explore the biodiversity of fauna and flora on the property. Walks are offered in early morning hours when birds are most active, and at night when nocturnal birds can be observed. Get up close and personal with nature and join citizen science projects such as eBird of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and iNaturalist of the California Academy of Science.
The Motus Wildlife Tracking System “is an international collaborative network of researchers that use automated radio telemetry to simultaneously track hundreds of individuals of numerous species of birds, bats, and insects” (Birds Canada, 2020).
Finca Cántaros was the second location in all of Costa Rica to become equipped with the Motus Wildlife Tracking equipment, in order to monitor movement of birds and other species.
We are proud to be a part of this collaborative network—which can be described as citizen science or community science—so that we are able to collect important data about birds, bats or insects across long time periods and large distances than would otherwise be possible. This data allows us to respond better to scientific questions in many scientific fields of study, from population ecology to animal behaviour.
It also allows us to create more informed and robust conservation strategies. Motus Receivers, and the collaborations between people managing these receivers, facilitates a better understanding of the habitat needs and threats of countless species, and how we can do a better job protecting them.
To date our Motus Receiver has detected 18 individual birds, including: 13 Swainson’s Thrushes, 3 Red-eyed Vireo, and 2 Lesser Yellowlegs. You can visit the Finca Cántaros Motus Receiver page on the Motus site to check out more details about these exciting detections.
Finca Cántaros has partnered with Texas A&M University and Birds Canada to develop Motus-oriented environmental education materials.
Finca Cántaros, along with other local organizations, launched the first Christmas Bird Count (CBC) of Coto Brus (county) in 2021. It was a collaborative effort between the San Vito Bird Club, Las Cruces Biological Station, and Turibrus (the local tourism organization). CBCs are part of a worldwide Audubon Society initiative. Local groups on nearly every continent organize a day during December or early January to count the species present in their region, which contributes to our understanding local bird populations.