by Carol Beidleman
Partners in Flight (PIF) Awards recognize exceptional contributions to the field of landbird conservation, in the categories of Leadership, Investigations, Public Awareness, Stewardship, and Lifetime Achievement. We are pleased to announce the final 2018 PIF Award winners, who were recognized at the 22nd BirdsCaribbean International Conference in Guadeloupe, on July 29, 2019, which was attended by 250 delegates from 34 countries. Three additional 2018 PIF Awards were presented at the inaugural meeting of the PIF Eastern Working Group in Tennessee in April 2019.
The PIF Leadership Award honors an individual or group that demonstrates outstanding guidance and direction that contributes, or has contributed, to advancing Partners in Flight conservation efforts. BirdsCaribbean received a 2018 PIF Group Leadership Award for Hurricane Relief and Recovery for Caribbean Birds and Habitats.
BirdsCaribbean was one of the first entities to respond to the devastating impacts in September 2017 of hurricanes Irma and Maria on Caribbean landbird populations and habitats. BirdsCaribbean provided outstanding leadership by promptly organizing and implementing conservation recovery and restoration activities. Given its 30 years of experience in building local conservation capacity to benefit birds on the islands of the Caribbean, BirdsCaribbean was poised to quickly respond after the passage of the hurricanes via its network of members, cooperators, and volunteers, springing into action to organize “Operation Feeder Rescue” to provide crucial food resources to over 60 species of birds, and raising funds to help Caribbean birds recover from the hurricanes. Over 4,000 nectar feeders, almost 2,000 bottles of nectar, and 5 tons of bird seed were distributed to the islands/countries that were impacted by the hurricanes. BirdsCaribbean also funded 15 small grants for post-hurricane assessments, restoration, and recovery of birds and their habitats, providing guidance for prioritizing conservation interventions. Publicity associated with the feeding effort greatly increased public awareness of the needs of birds stressed by hurricanes, and attracted numerous volunteers who, despite suffering their own losses, expressed concern for and wished to help their island’s birds. BirdsCaribbean partners felt this effort sparked tremendous interest and raised the profile of the islands’ birds.
Andrew Dobson, President of BirdsCaribbean, accepted the award, joined by people from many islands who participated in the hurricane recovery effort.