This March, BFREE proudly joined as a collaborator in the International Motus Network! Motus, which is Latin for the word ‘movement,’ is the future in migratory ecology studies. Scientists throughout the world are now afixing tiny radio transmitters to their species of interest, be at a thrush, warbler, or even a bat or imperiled monarch butterfly. These miniature devices send out a unique identifying pulse every 30 seconds, and if they pass within six miles of a host antenna station, the tag is automatically detected and uploaded into a public database, not just for the benefit of those scientists, but rather for anybody interested in the health and welfare of our migratory species.
This newer technology is groundbreaking because it is no longer necessary to recapture the bird in order to get the device and download it into a computer. Instead, the data collection is automated. However, if there are no receiving antennas on the ground, there is nothing to receive and record that migrating species.
Just in time for spring migration, I traveled to Belize with the missing components of the BFREE Motus Antenna. Together I worked with Mario Teul, Pedro Witz and Heather Barrett (who was collaborating from the US at the time) to get the BFREE computers set up to receive and manage the data. Mario then worked on assembling the antenna while Jacob Marlin and Tom Pop prepared for Jacob to climb the tower. Jacob free climbed the 140 feet on the communication tower above the BFREE office, and through brilliant rope and poly engineering, he installed the two antennas!
BFREE hosts only the second Motus receiving station in all of Belize!
We are proud to do our part and help scientists see a more complete picture of migration patterns. With Motus, scientists are now see a more accurately calculate migration timing, key stopover sites, and even to a certain extent evaluate site fidelity both in their breeding grounds and here in their overwintering grounds. This new information will help guide future conservation practices.
With great thanks to Birds Canada, who oversees the International Motus network and who also generously donated the antennas. For more information on Motus, go to www.motus.org
Special Thanks to the Author
BFREE would like to give special thanks to Michael Rogers. After traveling to BFREE in January to volunteer with his partner Rebecca, Michael took on the not-so-easy task of determining why our current Motus station wasn’t functioning. Through diligent research and support, Michael generously funded the purchase of many of the key elements needed and returned to Belize to support the installation at BFREE. Michael’s enthusiasm, initiative, and problem-solving skills made this Motus tower possible for us and we are supremely grateful!
Michael (pictured left) with the staff of Runaway Creek Nature Reserve, deploying Motus trackers on migratory songbirds with school children from Mahogany Heights.
Since 2016, I have served on the Agami Heron Working Group. This is a group of scientists and conservationists from throughout Central and South America working together to better understand a very secretive and therefore under-documented bird. My role is to ensure that we collect and submit annual nesting data on a small colony of Agami herons. Because the lagoon acts as nesting habitat for Boat-billed herons and Anhinga, we include them in our observation data.
In order to minimize disturbance of the colony, we make infrequent, short visits to the lagoon. Our goal is to determine if nesting has begun for the Agamis. The Boat-billed herons and Anhingas generally nest earlier in the year – March through May. Around the time that they finish their season, individual Agami herons begin to arrive and appear to investigate the area but do not stay.
In late June or early July, pairs of Agamis arrive and begin rebuilding their nests. They use the same nest trees and often the same nests as the Boat-billed herons. They do not appear to use the Anhinga nests which are usually situated higher in the nest tree.
The instructions for documenting the Agami nesting habits are straight-forward, but the timing of their nesting always has made the process a bit tricky. Our data collection begins when the birds are on the nest; however, we can’t visit too frequently. So, it is sometimes difficult to identify the most accurate start date. When we observe the birds on the nest, we document the date, number of nests, number of birds, and other habitat data and then quickly and quietly depart. We return ten days later to do another count.
When eggs begin to hatch and hatchlings grow, we continue to our count: focusing on number of eggs and number of hatchlings. We also look for evidence of parental care, possible predation, and growth stages. At the end of each successful year of data collection, reports are submitted to the Working Group for review.
About the Agami Heron Working Group
The Agami Heron Working Group established an action plan for the conservation of the Agami Heron in 2015. The plan can be accessed in English, French or Spanish. The Group will continue to provide an information exchange and coordination point for those interested in research and conservation of the species.
https://www.bfreebz.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/AGami-heron-Wesley-Gubitz-scaled.jpg17072560Heather Barretthttps://www.bfreebz.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Logo-1080.pngHeather Barrett2022-05-23 02:18:312022-05-23 02:18:34Agami Heron Study
Hello, my name is Mark Canti. I’m the BFREE Cacao Fellow, and I oversee the cacao adoption program at BFREE in collaboration with the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund. I’m always very excited when I learn that a new tree has been adopted from our farm, and I am eager to tag the newly adopted tree.
I first create a personalized tag for the tree by engraving the adopter’s name or the adopter’s chosen honoree on an aluminum tag. Then I grab my gear, including the newly created tag, a GPS device, and my camera. Next, I need to select the perfect tree. I’m looking for healthy trees that have at least 70% shade and are at least 1-1.5 meters tall. Once the tree has been selected, carefully tie the tag to a tree branch and record the GPS coordinates. Finally, comes my favorite part of the process. I’m very passionate about photography, and I really enjoy the opportunity to photograph each tree. My dream is to capture wildlife such as a beautiful bird like a warbler when I’m taking each photo. I like that the pictures I take can help the new adopters feel as close to being on our beautiful farm as possible.
I’m very proud to be part of the Adopt a Tree program, and I would like to thank everyone who has adopted a tree from our farm so far. I hope I have the opportunity to select and photograph a tree for you!
If you would like to adopt a tree from the BFREE Farm, please visit the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund’s website and select HCP#11.
https://www.bfreebz.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/MC-Adopt-a-Tree3-1.jpeg1024768BFREE Contacthttps://www.bfreebz.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Logo-1080.pngBFREE Contact2022-05-03 00:10:402022-05-03 00:10:43Cacao Fellow, Mark Canti, Explains the Process of Adopting a Tree from the BFREE Farm:
Congratulations to long-time BFREE supporters, field course leaders, researchers, and adventurers, Drs. Jamie Rotenberg and Vibeke Olson on their recent retirement from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Extraordinary husband and wife team, Jamie and Vibeke, have been visiting BFREE for nearly two decades as professors bringing field courses, as researchers, with their graduate students, and as supporters.
Their impact on BFREE has been significant. BFREE is a better place because of Jamie and Vibeke. So from your BFREE family, congratulations! We look forward to this next chapter in your lives and can’t wait to share in a few of your upcoming adventures.
Messages from your BFREE Friends and Family:
From Judy and Dan Dourson, BFREE Staff Members 2006 – 2013:
We first met Jamie (Dr. Rotenberg to most) in December of 2006 in our first few months as field station managers of BFREE. He arrived along with close friend and cave diver, Sam Meachum, to lead the first of many expeditions into the Bladen Nature Reserve to establish survey protocols for what would be an extensive, long-term study of neotropical migratory birds and the signature species, the Harpy Eagle. Jamie’s tenacity and determination were on full display when he limped into BFREE after one particularly grueling expedition, hiking over 8 hours through trail-less, brutal terrain to reach BFREE only to discover a very painful broken collarbone. Dr. Rotenberg’s tireless commitment to the Avian Monitoring and Harpy Eagle study produced numerous grants to fund the study.
By far our most elaborate scientific collaboration with Jamie was in 2016 when Dan became a co-investigator for a National Geographic Waitt Foundation Grant that focused on the potential relationship between land snails (Dan’s research focus) and Harpy Eagles. With over 30 participants, the expedition was a technological feat that entailed creating a mobile lab to process snails, portable generators hauled deep into the jungle to provide power for advanced drone technology and elite cavers from Poland who dropped into a 300-foot sinkhole during the expedition.
While Dan’s interactions with Jamie would revolve around their shared passion for the biodiversity of this exceptional region of the world, my time spent with Dr. Rotenberg centered on the development and implementation of seven field courses. In true fashion, Jamie always knew how to shake things up and challenged me to expand my own horizons as Director of Educational Programs at BFREE leading to new field course locations like Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary or Tikal in Guatemala. I met Jamie’s lovely and spunky life companion, Vibeke, while working with them to plan and execute an innovative course for biology and art/architecture majors focused on the art and architecture of Maya archaeological sites and structures and the biodiversity found around these anthropogenic structures. Another creative collaboration with Dr. Rotenberg focused on Environmental Psychology with both environmental sciences and psychology majors.
Our field course adventures were always informative, stimulating, sometimes challenging, and full of surprises but it was those challenges that strengthened the bonds of what is sure to be a lifelong friendship. It is with great delight that Dan and I welcome them into the wonderful world of “retirement”. We look forward to learning more about what new adventures await and how we can participate. To quote my comedian spouse, Dan, “After all, snails and birds rule, everything else drools!”
From Jacob Marlin, BFREE Executive Director:
From the first time Jamie came to BFREE back almost two decades ago, he has played a key role in so many of our conservation programs. From leading our bird research and monitoring efforts, including the rediscovery of a wild breeding population of Harpy eagles, to training young Belizeans to be bird biologists. His passion for teaching brought hundreds of students from the USA to BFREE on study abroad programs for more than a decade. In 2014, BFREE was honored to have Jamie join the board of directors, where he currently serves as vice-president. Over the many years, Jamie and Vibeke have continued to support BFREE in countless ways, always believing in us and our mission. They are both true partners in conservation. Congratulations to this dynamic husband and wife team!
From Marlyn Cruz Sierra, BFREE Staff Member 2012 – 2014:
Working along with people who share an incredible passion for what they do is one of those experiences that you will always cherish. For me, Dr. James is that person. He transmitted this passion and love of his work and projects when I participated as an avian technician at BFREE, so it never really felt like “work.” He was always very communicative and incredibly organized. He was unselfish with the wealth of knowledge he possessed, willing to give you an opportunity for growth, and cheering you on while you accepted new challenges.
From Liberato “Gato” Pop, BFREE Staff Member 2006 – 2015:
I would like to say that Dr. Jamie has been a great mentor for me. He has guided me through numerous trainings to become an expert avian researcher. He has always encouraged me to continue what I love and that is working with nature.
I want to thank Dr. Jamie and Dr. Vibeke for their support of our bird banding project for the past years at BFREE.
From Heather Barrett, BFREE Deputy Director:
I admire how well Jamie and Vibeke have participated in each other’s professional and personal interests over the years. Although they have focused their careers on different continents, they remain a strong team supporting one another by each being engaged in the pursuits of the other. Jamie picked Central America and the sciences for his research while Vibeke chose Europe and the arts for hers. Instead of allowing their differences to divide them, they used them as an opportunity to explore the world together. With that model in mind, I’d say the sky is the limit for their shared retirement. Congratulations, Jamie and Vibeke!
From Lisa Ramsden, UNCW Alum and BFREE Field Course Participant 2007:
Dr. Rotenberg fostered my deep love of tropical ecosystems and birds through his classes at UNCW. I am so thankful that I particpated in his Environmental Psychology course that took students to Belize and that I was able to visit BFREE. It was a truly eye-opening experience for me. I feel so lucky to have taken a variety of classes with him and to have gotten the wonderful experience to intern with him on his Painted Bunting project. Congratulations on your retirement, wishing you all the best!
From James Abbott, UNCW Alum, BFREE Field Course Participantand Assistant Researcher:
Congratulations Dr. Rotenberg on your retirement. You have been an amazing mentor to me. I believe that even more than the knowledge, experience, and skills, you passed on to me; the biggest influence I carry with me everyday is your attitude toward life and teaching demeanor and style. Those have and continue to shape my career in environmental education. Not to mention my unofficial role as the painted bunting ambassador to all of southeast VA – our region’s newest breeding bird. I cannot thank you enough for everything you have done for me and I hope we can meet up again someday at BFREE and enjoy a field station harpy eagle together.
https://www.bfreebz.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/IMG_9309-1-edited.jpg699933Tyler Sanvillehttps://www.bfreebz.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Logo-1080.pngTyler Sanville2021-07-27 20:18:002021-07-28 15:38:49Congratulations Drs. James Rotenberg and Vibeke Olson on your retirement!
You asked, we answered! BFREE is partnering with Bonfire to create and sell t-shirts that support our conservation programs. Our first t-shirt design is in honor of the BFREE Birding Club and sports a beautiful Rufous-tailed jacamar. Anyone can join the BFREE Birding Club! The best part – you can pick from five different styles of shirts and nearly twenty different colors! Profits from each sale will directly support BFREE’s conservation programs. Shirts are mailed every 4-weeks directly from the Bonfire warehouse. If you have a question about shipping please do not hesitate to contact us!
Bird watching is the ultimate connector.
The BFREE Privately Protected Area is home to more than 80 species of migratory birds and hundreds of resident species. When we scour the branches for our feathered friends in Belize, we are reminded that some of them have migrated from your backyard to ours. Our location is critical for wildlife, and with your support, we can make a difference in protecting critical wild spaces for all of our furry, scaly, and feathered friends!
https://www.bfreebz.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/tshirt.jpg795789Tyler Sanvillehttps://www.bfreebz.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Logo-1080.pngTyler Sanville2021-07-07 21:03:252021-08-16 17:32:07BFREE Birding Club T-Shirts For Sale!
Today marks what is now the most widely observed secular holiday across the globe, Earth Day! Celebrated April 22nd annually, organizations and individuals come together to demonstrate support for environmental protection. This year’s earthday.org theme is “Restore Our Earth.” The theme rejects the notion that mitigation or adaptation are the only ways to address climate change but that it is up to every one of us to Restore Our Earth.
“Restore” is not a new theme for us at BFREE; in fact, it is a significant theme to all that we do.
Restoring tropical rainforest. Our cacao-based agroforestry program was created as a strategy to conserve and restore tropical rainforests in Belize.
Restoring watersheds. BFREE has partnered with the Monkey River Watershed Association working to conserve and restore the integrity of the entire Monkey River Watershed.
Restoring habitats. Through extensive management and protection of the BFREE reserve, our rangers are restoring habitats to ensure BFREE remains a hotspot for biodiversity.
Restoring wildlife. Our Hicatee Conservation and Research Center is restoring local populations through captive-breeding and release programs.
Our success in restoring wildlife and wildlands is because of our relentless stewardship, innovative strategies, and your support. As we celebrate our 25th Earth Day at BFREE this year, we know that there is still plenty of work to be done – but together, we can Restore Our Earth.
For the past three years, BFREE has had Harpy eagle visitors in late February. So that means we are spending a lot of time looking up! Scouring the tops of trees like Ceiba and Prickly Yellow where we’ve seen them previously perched in hopes that 2021 will be good to us. We’ve recorded 20 separate observations within the BFREE reserve since the first one in September 2016. The most recent was by Sipriano Canti last November.
To us, it is spectacular to witness this enormous and awe-inspiring raptor. We are reminded that having Harpies around means that BFREE and the Maya Mountains remain healthy and intact enough to support this top predator.
And the Harpy isn’t the only bird indicator that the BFREE reserve is an oasis for wildlife. Our Ranger team has diligently recorded Scarlet Macaw sightings on an almost daily basis since August 3, 2020.
We don’t want the rangers to have all of the fun though! So some of the staff have started to document birds using both ebird.org and printed observation sheets. As a 2021 challenge, Nelly Cadle and I began recording a list every day. Doing this helps us to become better birders while also documenting which birds inhabit BFREE. We often ask Tom Pop for help with IDs because he is excellent at identifying birds by song and calls. Lenardo Ash has also become interested in birding and has started recording sightings with us. Finally, we can always count on Sipriano Canti to snap pics and record bird observations around BFREE because he and his ranger team are constantly on the move and have the greatest opportunity to spot amazing birds and other wildlife.
Being at BFREE nurtures our love for this country’s incredible wildlife and inspires us to continue our role as stewards of this rare and spectacular place.
Below are photos BFREE staff took of birds at BFREE in 2020 and 2021.
https://www.bfreebz.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/96108883_3760730803968614_6667997792885014528_n-1-1.jpg716716Heather Barretthttps://www.bfreebz.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Logo-1080.pngHeather Barrett2021-02-18 18:18:082021-02-18 21:42:26BFREE’s Bounty of Birds
Join BFREE in the great world-wide celebration of migratory birds during the entire month of March!
Below are educational resources and additional information for you to use in your classrooms. We encourage celebratory events throughout the month of March such as educational presentations, cleanups, and other habitat restorations as well as bird walks, and creative art activities
Classroom Activity Ideas:
Host or join a trash clean up, this can be done around your school, in your community or along the beach! Bonus challenge, have class competitions to collect the most trash or create an art project with the plastic collected.
Download the bird count and bring your class outside to record data from around your schoolyard.
Have a school-wide plastic-free challenge week. Challenge your students to go a full week without using any single-use plastic at school!
Host a movie party, watch Wing of Hope, Yochi, or Birds of Belize to get to know more about the incredible birds in our country.
Share Migratory Bird Day in Belize on social media! Share the Facebook banner or post on Instagram and tag @bfreebz so we can see your activities!
February 22: “Protect Birds: Be the Solution to Plastic Pollution” Presentation to students of Natural Resource Management from Independence Junior College
March 1 – 31: Join BFREE in celebrating World Migratory Bird Day in Belize the entire month of March
March 4 – 6: BFREE presentations and activities for Primary and High Schools in Independence Village
March 14: Crocodile Research Coalition (CRC) and Next Gen Croc Club will host a beach clean up in Seine Bright
What is World Migratory Bird Day:
World Migratory Bird Day in the Americas is coordinated by the organization, Environment for the Americas, which promotes bilingual educational materials and information about birds and bird conservation. Environment for the Americas celebrates the migration of nearly 350 bird species between their nesting habitats in North America and wintering grounds in Latin America, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
Now in its 26th year, World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) has grown from a one-day event to hundreds of projects and programs year-round and encourage individuals and organizations to join them in selecting their own date to celebrate WMBD. BFREE has selected the entire month of March to celebrate WMBD in Belize and we invite you to join us!
We are inspired by the phase-out plan to ban single-use plastic in Belize that became effective on 15 January 2020. The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development and Immigration, Hon. Goodwin Hulse, signed into law the Environmental Protection (Pollution from Plastics) Regulations, 2020 that is set to reduce plastic and styrofoam pollution through the phasing out of single-use plastics in Belize as a control measure to protect the terrestrial and marine environment from harmful plastic contamination.
With this in mind, we at BFREE are celebrating WMBD by embracing the message, “Protect birds: Be the solution to plastic pollution.”
We invite you, our partners country-wide to join BFREE in tackling the challenges of plastic pollution in the environment by sharing with your classrooms the many ways that plastic can harm birds and by offering some ideas for ways that we can reduce our use of plastic items.
The Truth Behind Plastic Pollution:
Since plastic was introduced in the 1950s, an estimated 8.3 billion metric tons have been created. Only about 9% of plastic materials are recycled, leaving more than 6.3 billion metric tons of plastics in landfills or polluting the environment. “One of the main types of debris in the marine environment today is plastic. We know fishing gear, plastic bags, bottle caps, utensils, and other plastic pieces are entangling and being ingested by birds. Plastics harm birds in marine environments, as well as other habitats. As human use of plastics grows, so too does the amount of plastic pollution that invades most ecosystems around the globe. “Plastic debris such as fishing line poses a serious risk of entangling birds, which can entrap them and cause serious injury,” says Dr. Susan Bonfield, Director of Environment for the Americas. Migratory birds also have a high risk of directly ingesting plastics. It’s been estimated that 80% of sea and shorebirds have consumed foam, pellets, thread, and other items. In addition, small bits of plastic, known as microplastics, pose a hazard to birds and smaller organisms throughout the food chain due to the toxins they concentrate in the environment.
The Spectacular Journey of Birds:
In addition to raising awareness about issues important to bird conservation, World Migratory Bird Day is also a celebration of the spectacular journeys that migratory birds take as they travel between nesting and non-breeding sites around the world. Global partners at the Convention on Migratory Species in Bonn, Germany recognize that “World Migratory Bird Day joins our voices as one for the protection of the birds we share. With raised awareness of threats such as plastic pollution to birds, it is our opportunity to take action by making changes that help birds, whether personal or more broadly.” Although WMBD is traditionally celebrated in Canada and the U.S. on the second Saturday in May, in reality every day is bird day, and programs, festivals, and other events occur throughout the year, whenever it works best for organizers—and the birds. “Ultimately, the goal of WMBD is to connect people to nature through birds,” says Miguel Matta, WMBD Coordinator in Latin America.
The Belize Foundation for Research & Environmental Education (BFREE) operates a biological field station in the rainforest of southern Belize. Our mission is “to conserve the biodiversity and cultural heritage of Belize.” We strive to successfully integrate scientific research, environmental education, conservation, and create sustainable development opportunities for alternative livelihoods for Belizeans.
About Environment for the Americas:
WMBD in the Americas is coordinated by Environment for the Americas, which provides bilingual educational materials and information about birds and bird conservation throughout the Americas. Their programs inspire children and adults to get outdoors, learn about birds, and take part in their conservation. To learn more about migratory bird habitats, download WMBD educational and promotional materials in Spanish and English, and search for activities planned in your area, visit http://www.migratorybirdday.org/.
Miguel Matta, Latin America World Migratory Bird Day Coordinator, Environment for the Americas, Boulder, CO, USA. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
https://www.bfreebz.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Belize-01.png830601Tyler Sanvillehttps://www.bfreebz.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Logo-1080.pngTyler Sanville2020-02-14 15:05:072020-02-25 14:34:19Let’s Celebrate World Migratory Bird Day in Belize!
Allegheny College students pose for a photo at BFREE during the Birds, Chocolate, Forest Field Course in May 2019.
Written By, Beth Choate, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Environmental Science and Sustainability Allegheny College
BFREE’s Birds, Chocolate and Forests course provided students with a real life example of the complexities of conservation within the rainforests of southern Belize. Through interactive demonstrations and presentations, field research and experiments, day-excursions, conversations with all members of the BFREE team, and exploring the surrounding environment, students developed an understanding of the relationships not only between birds, chocolate, and forests, but people as well. The complicated web of relationships that exists among efforts to conserve biodiversity and livelihoods is something we speak often about in our Environmental Science and Sustainability courses at Allegheny College. In our introductory course for the major, we make it clear to students that you will not find the solutions to environmental problems in a book. Each problem is unique and requires individuals who can critically examine the issue to devise a unique and thoughtful solution. The 2-week experience with our BFREE guides was a perfect compliment to this concept. In a country where people rely on the natural resources of the surrounding forests to provide them with medicines, food, and fertile land for agriculture, it quickly became clear that you couldn’t simply tell people to stop using the forest. BFREE provides a unique solution: conserve the forest and grow a cash crop within the understory in an effort to conserve birds and other organisms, as well as livelihood. Jacob spoke with us about ongoing efforts to ensure that methods of cacao agro-forestry were fully understood so that local farmers could create successful farms and provide for their families demonstrating that BFREE is thinking about the sustainability of their program. The complexities of conservation also became apparent when learning about the Hicatee turtle, talking with Ernesto about traditional Mayan culture, and spending time on the coast in Placencia. This course was the perfect compliment to what we are saying in the classroom: solving environmental problems is complicated.
In order to solve those complicated problems, one must be curious, flexible, and have excellent communication and intercultural skills. Many of our students had minimal experience traveling outside of the US and very few had been submerged in a culture different to their own. When students are outside of their comfort zone, they are forced to adapt and push their own limits. It is through experiencing this unknown, whether it be using compost toilets, learning to fall asleep to the sound of howler monkeys, or discovering just how difficult harvesting cacao in the jungle can be, students were forced to overcome new challenges. After reading their final journal entries, many of our students surprised themselves. They learned that they are capable of much more than they ever thought possible. Through conversations with the BFREE staff and local Belizeans we met during the trip, worldviews were expanded and communication skills improved. For many students, this was the highlight of the trip, getting to know individuals with completely different life experiences than themselves. From an educational perspective, this is impossible to teach in a classroom or while simply touring around. BFREE provided an excellent experience for students to be completely submerged in the Belize culture, all while learning in a completely new environment.
https://www.bfreebz.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Birds-Chocolate-Forests.jpg7201280Darrell Robinsonhttps://www.bfreebz.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Logo-1080.pngDarrell Robinson2019-09-23 06:47:052019-09-23 06:47:07Birds, Chocolate, Forests, and Allegheny College
We are wrapping up another incredibly rewarding year of hosting field courses at the BFREE Field Station. 2019 brought seven colleges and universities from the US and one from Belize. Altogether, just over 100 students and 20 instructors spent between 4-10 nights at BFREE. They could be found immersing themselves in the jungle hiking both day and night, working on independent research projects, learning about the critically endangered hicatee turtle, tasting cacao fresh off the pod, swimming in the river, snacking on johnny cakes, and searching for the elusive Harpy eagle.
Most field courses require students to work on independent research projects in order to receive an introduction to environmental field methods through hands-on learning. Students gain a basic understanding of field methods necessary to discuss and research various environmental issues. Some will come prepared with a question in mind before they arrive at BFREE, however, for many once they arrive with one sweeping view of the jungle, the possibilities of research are endless. Below are just a few examples of the independent research projects students worked on this year.
1. Are howler monkeys most active at dusk or at dawn?
2. Does the height of the tree determine the size of its buttress?
3. Will the trees near the river or a waterbody grow taller than the ones that are not near a waterbody?
4. Will a foreign liquid throw the leafcutter ants off their trail?
5. Does the higher density of insects/food source in an area coincide with a higher density of birds in that area?
A special thanks to each of our instructors that make our Faculty-Led Field Courses a success. We look forward to having you back next time!
2019 BFREE Field Course Group Photos
The University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, N.C.
The University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst, MA
Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia
Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, FL
Flagler College, St Augustine, FL
Independence Junior College, Independence, Belize
Allegheny College, Meadville, PA
Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, Nebraska
We would love to see the photos you took during your time in Belize. Please share them via social media on Instagram @bfreebz or by email to email@example.com.
https://www.bfreebz.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/uncw.jpg421750Tyler Sanvillehttps://www.bfreebz.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Logo-1080.pngTyler Sanville2019-09-23 06:27:582019-09-23 06:34:502019 Field Season Wrap Up