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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

 

TIJUANA SLOUGH NWR: Celebrating International Migratory Bird Day - Connecting People to Birds Through Art

Region 8, May 12, 2012
Girl Scout Courtney Payton's bird-drawing class at the Visitor Center
Girl Scout Courtney Payton's bird-drawing class at the Visitor Center - Photo Credit: n/a
Visitors painting using ancient Asian
Visitors painting using ancient Asian "Sumi-e" art technique - Photo Credit: n/a

By Lisa Cox, San Diego Bay NWRC

This year's annual International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) at the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was the most highly-attended in the 12 years the event has taken place. It was the 20th Anniversary of IMBD, whose theme this year was "Connecting People to Bird Conservation." The Tijuana Slough NWR did just that, by connecting them through art - and a lot of it.

Students in the South San Diego Bay School District were sent flyers inviting them to join in on the free festivities, from bird walks to beginning bird-drawing lessons.

Girl Scout Gold Award Candidate Courtney Payton patiently taught kids and adults in drawing basic birds of the estuary such as egrets and herons. Sixty people were "drawn in" to her class, and all left with a work of art to take home. Courtney's Gold Award is the highest honor in Girl Scouting, and she's  proud to have accomplished such a great project, with help of her fellow girl scouts in her troop.

Friends of San Diego Refuges Treasurer Gaye Lingley conducted an art workshop for 15 adults using an ancient East Asian painting technique called "Taka Sumi-e." The guests painted "zen" birds using a special paint brush and only black ink.

San Diego NWR biologist, John Martin, led a popular early morning bird walk that approximately 10 people attended.

On another  trail at the Estuary, Environmental Education Specialist Chantel Jimenez led the bird-watching game, Bird Bingo. Kids practiced using binoculars to find stuffed birds in the upland marsh plants to learn about birds and birding.

The newly-established Raptor Institute had a booth showing off two live birds of prey: the Great-horned owl named "Hector," and a Barn owl, named "Corazon." Both birds gave visitors a glimpse into the behaviors of the nocturnal natives.

Besides crafts and poster giveaways, the popular bird banding activity was another fun activity for kids to learn about how birds are tracked and monitored.

"Puddles" the refuge blue goose mascot,  flew throughout the visitor center and met everyone with open wings and photo opportunities. Some visitors became fans of Puddles and even drew his portrait during Courtney's bird-drawing class, then gave their drawings to Puddles as a heart-felt gift!

IMBD coincided with the "Second Saturday" stewardship and volunteer work days at the Tijuana Estuary, so it was incorporated into the activities of the day. Over 50 people attended the volunteer project, which was a beautification project of a water maintenance structure. It was finished in less than three hours, an impressive project to stand back and look at when it was done.

It was a successful day in connecting people to birds, with over 118 people visiting Tijuana Slough NWR.

Contact Info: Lisa Cox, 619.476.9150 ext. 106, lisa_cox@fws.gov