The Bahamas National Trust salutes the Valley Boys for bringing together National Parks, Birds and Culture on New Year’s morning. The theme “Invasion of the Birds – Birds of a Feather March Together” highlighted birds as indicators of environmental change resulting from climate change. The Valley has sent out a call for us to heed nature’s warning so that Bahamian birds do not disappear from our islands.
The lead costume highlighted the Inagua National Park, home to a flock of 50,000 flamingos. A park that brought the flamingos back from the brink of extinction, it is one of the greatest bird conservation stories in the Americas.
Eric Carey, BNT Executive Director; Janet Johnson , BNT Deputy President; and Lynn Gape, BNT Deputy Executive Director were treated to a special preview of the New Year’s costumes on New Year’s Eve.
“The BNT is absolutely thrilled to have the Inagua National Park and our national bird the flamingo featured as a centerpiece for the Valley Boys’ New Year’s Day Junkanoo presentation”, said Janet Johnson, Deputy President of the BNT. She further said, “Through this initiative, the Valley has taken the work of the BNT and the National Parks of The Bahamas to popular culture. This is a major focus of the BNT and we hope this action by the Valley Boys will encourage Bahamians to become members and support the work of the BNT”.
Birds are an important component of the terrestrial biodiversity of our islands. Over 300 species of birds have been recorded in The Bahamas and 42 Important Bird Areas (sites of importance for bird conservation) have been designated. The BNT works with scientists to monitor the bird life of our islands, and is about to launch an advanced bird guide training programme on Andros and Inagua.
The Valley Boys Spoonbill was one of the many costumes featuring Bahamian Birds.
International Agencies also recognize the importance of the Bahamas as winter habitat for migratory birds and are working with local partners to aid national conservation initiatives. The Bahamas provides important wintering habitat for the Kirtland’s warbler, an endangered North American songbird and the piping plover, the most endangered North American shorebird. Working with the US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service and National Audubon, the BNT and its partners have begun monitoring these endangered species and training Bahamians in Citizen Science initiatives to support conservation efforts.
The Bahamas has been in the forefront of avian conservation since the early 1960’s when the Inagua National Park was created to protect important wetland habitat for our national bird, the flamingo. As the population increased flamingos began to move back to historical breeding strongholds like Cuba and the Dominican Republic, and throughout The Bahamas – proof of conservation success.
The Bahamas continues to strengthen conservation efforts evidenced by the recent declaration of 15 new protected areas which includes the Joulter Cays National Park. This National Park is also designated as an Important Bird Area, because it is an important wintering habitat for the endangered piping plover.
Eric Carey, BNT’s Executive Director notes, “The BNT believes that The Valley Boys’ message of Take Heed, We must Protect our Birds is timely and appropriate as our islands face the impending challenges posed by climate change. We join with the Valley by encouraging the public to become members of the BNT, volunteer and actively participate in protecting nature to preserve our heritage”.