“Wings of Hope” lands on YouTube

Juvenile Harpy Eagle

Juvenile Harpy Eagle featured in “Wings of Hope” – photo credit – Liberato Pop

BFREE’s new film, Wings of Hope, was released on YouTube in August.  The 20-minute documentary chronicles the re-discovery of a population of wild Harpy Eagles in the Maya Mountains of southern Belize. The film showcases the history of the BFREE and University of North Carolina, Wilmington initiative born from this discovery – the Integrated Community-based Harpy Eagle and Avian Conservation Program. Created by Emmy-award winning filmmakers, Richard and Carol Foster of Wildlife Film Productions, and narrated by Jacob Marlin, this film is rich with breath-taking footage of adult and juvenile Harpy eagles and other wildlife and vistas found in the pristine tropical forests of the Bladen Nature Reserve. Over the seven year duration of the project, the Fosters followed project trainees William Garcia, Liberato Pop, Alejandro Cholum and Thomas Pop as they work to learn about and attempt to save this rare bird and its diminishing habitat.

“The story captures the essence of BFREE’s mission. I think of it as a model for integrating science, education and conservation.” Jacob Marlin, Executive Director of BFREE.

In August the film was posted to YouTube – watch it here – and in early September 2015, the film was shown in fourteen schools and community centers throughout southern Belize in order to raise awareness of the significance of continuing to protect wilderness areas like the Bladen Nature Reserve and the greater Maya Mountains. The film has also been submitted to Cinema Verde, an international environmental film and arts festival in the U.S.A. and we hope to submit it to the 2016 Belize Film Festival.

Dr. James Rotenberg of UNCW and BFREE staff members published an associated article in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology detailing the finding of the first record of a Harpy Eagle Nest in Belize.

Article Citation:

James A. Rotenberg, Jacob A. Marlin, Liberato Pop, and William Garcia (2012) First Record of a Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) Nest in Belize. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology: June 2012, Vol. 124, No. 2, pp. 292-297

Dr. Rotenberg says of the film “ ‘Wings of Hope’ shows how a small non-profit, collaborating with scientists, universities, zoos and government agencies can truly make a difference.  The Harpy Eagle project is a great example of boots on the ground conservation – – working with animals and outreach to people.  This documentary will go far to change attitudes and behaviors about nature.”

Liberato Pop of Bladen Village was trained through the project and since that time, he has worked all over Belize doing bird research using expertise gained from the years of experience gained as an avian technician for the project. In a recent interview Mr. Pop stated, “As an Avian Technician at BFREE, I am very excited about the Harpy Eagle film and the work we have done. I think that many students and parents will find this video interesting and be willing to learn about the value of what we have in our protected areas.”

Project Trainees:

Abidas Ash, Alejandro Cholum, Alan Romero, Frank Perez, Henry Perez, Liberato Pop, Macario Coy, Marlyn Cruz, Pedro Pop, Roni Florian, Sipriano Canti, Thomas Pop, William Garcia, and Wilfred Mutrie


Oecologia article considers the winter ecology of Wood Thrushes

Emily McKinnon spent significant time at BFREE studying Wood Thrushes in their overwintering grounds.

Emily McKinnon spent time at BFREE studying Wood Thrushes in their overwintering grounds.

Emily McKinnon, bird biologist and Research Affiliate in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Manitoba, conducted a significant portion of her doctoral field research at the BFREE field station. In her May 27 blog post, “Jungle life is not always easy for Wood Thrushes,”  McKinnon summarized her research and announced the resulting Oecologia article.

McKinnon, E.A., Rotenberg, J. A., and B.J. M. Stutchbury. 2015. Seasonal change in tropical habitat quality and body condition for a declining migratory songbird. Oecologia Early Online. 10.1007/s00442-015-3343-1

USFWS feature BFREE Pen Pal collaboration on their blog

After a visit to Belize this spring, Molly Sperduto of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Heather Barrett of BFREE helped establish pen pal relationships between a primary school in Golden Stream, Belize and another in Canterbury, New Hampshire, USA. Recently, a blog article on the USFWS website was recently posted that describes this new initiative.

N.H. students connect with birding pen pals in Belize

Third-grade students in Canterbury, New Hampshire, have become pen pals with the Golden Stream School in Belize. Our staff recently visited the Canterbury school to deliver letters from Belize and teach the students about the migratory birds that they share during different parts of the year, such as red-eyed vireo, yellow warbler, chestnut-sided warbler, yellow-rumped warbler, magnolia warbler, black-and-white warbler, northern waterthrush, gray catbird, least flycatcher, eastern kingbird, and wood thrush.

For the full post, visit USFWS Northeast’s blog.