Bird talk by bird men

For Merazonia, wildlife rehabilitation and land preservation go hand in hand and are an effective conservation strategy. Studies show that the protection of our reserve has lead to an increase of wildlife presence in the past fourteen years, both of mammals and birds. With an estimated 225 bird species to be found here, we started counting species. The results so far are now bundled in a book: Birds of Merazonia.

Indexing the bird life around us became a serious matter when two enthusiastic ornithologists, Victor Grivegnee-Dumoulin and Normand Fleury, sank their teeth in to the challenge. "There are so many good places to explore the jungle in and near Merazonia", says Victor, "it is easy to spot fifty bird species in one day."

Cock-of-the-rock

Cock of the rock merazonia birdWith around 150 species counted, he estimates that there are another 75 to identify for the book. Fourteen of which Dutch biologist Michael Paiva managed to add to the list in March 2018, among which different species of woodpeckers, parakeets and hummingbirds. "Of the new species I found, I like the Crimson-bellied woodpecker", says Michael. "Not new to the list but exciting to see for me was the Cock-of-the-rock. I haven been to Mindo, Ecuador's birding paradise, but they were quite rare to find there. At Merazonia they are actually common to see!"

Something that according to Merazonia's co-founder Frank Weijand, is a direct result of conservation efforts. "Back in 2004 when we created the Merazonia reserve, the cock-of-the-rock was really rare to spot here. The forest was degraded. But now we see them every day. The same counts for other species such as saddleback tamarin monkeys."

Tanagers and ducks

torrent duckWhen asked which sighted bird stood out for Victor, it weren’t parrots or majestic eagles that came back to mind. “Don’t get me wrong: seeing a group of wild parrots fly by is a magic moment. But for me, the torrent ducks were amazing to see in the river. You do not expect to see a duck in the jungle! Merazonia also has a huge population of different species of tanagers. It’s so wonderful to see them in huge groups all around the centre. I found at least six different species on a daily basis!”

Merazonia is a great place to spot birds in general, according to Victor. “Just by walking on the trails, it’s easy to find around fifty species in one day. But also the road between the village of Mera and Merazonia present a lot of habitats where different species can be found.”

Amazon and Andes in one

Michael: “I prefer to walk around while birding. The trails in and around Merazonia are nice and just sitting at a quiet spot works too.” He managed to spot around sixty species in the month he spent at Merazonia. Two things made his stay at the reserve special. “From an animal point of view the transitional location of the high Andes and the high Amazon is great, as you have some overlap of species that you find in the Andes and the Amazon.” Apart from birds he saw armadillos, tayras and other mammals.

"From a human point of view, Merazonia is one of nicest places I have volunteered", states Michael. "There are amazing people putting time into helping animals be released back into the wild. And disconnecting from the outside world (no internet and electricity) helps to connect to fellow volunteers or to just discover the jungle.

Bilingual bird book

Bird book merazonia example pageMerazonia's bird book is bilingual. All information is printed in English and Spanish. The plan is to make the bird book accessible for public once the final corrections have been made and even though the book will be updated in the next years with new sightings. The list of birds can also be found by clicking this link to our ebirds page.

 

All in all a happy story. But was there then nothing bad about being in hide-out spotting birds? “The sickle-winged guans gave me various little heart attacks”, admits Victor. “Quite often one suddenly jumped out in front of me in the forest, out of nowhere. These jungle turkeys cost me some time of my life!”

Bird spotters merazoniaBird locations at Merazonia