Birds and Beans Trip January 14-22, 2017
October 18th, 2016
In partnership with Birds & Beans coffee, acclaimed author and researcher, Scott Weidensaul, and Bridges Executive Director, John Hannan, will co-lead a special educational trip to Nicaragua from January 14 through the 22nd of 2017 to explore how well planned agroforestry increases economic opportunities for local farmers while fulfilling international conservation efforts.
We will focus on three areas of Nicaragua that are each different landscapes yet each vitally important to humans, birds and other wildlife.
The first area will be the fertile volcanic mountain ridges of the Sierra de Managua area. This area is a key conservation challenge as it has traditionally been an area of shade grown coffee farms providing income and forest cover to the families and wildlife that live there. It also is the source of headwaters for the watershed that supplies the Managua area, the most populated portion of the country, with drinking and irrigation water. We will visit farms whose owners are forming conservation laws and practices that enable small to medium sized farmers to protect vital habitat while reaping improved economic benefits via this work. Christmas Bird Counts on these Reserves have produced more than 140 species. Additionally we will visit Lake Nicaragua area to view the multitude of flora and fauna there while learning about the potential impacts climate change is having on this ecosystem right now.
From the Pacific area we head north to the highlands of Jinotega and into the cloud forest. There farmers face challenges to pure shade grown and agroforestry crop production but dedicated conservationists are making headway in protecting habitat and wildlife while ensuring economic benefits for those who work the land. We will visit Private reserves run by conservationists who are driving globally important conservation projects focused on Wood Thrush and Golden Winged Warbler as well as other migratory and endemic species. At El Jaguar Private Reserve, more than 291 bird species and 80 varieties of orchids have been documented. Down the road from El Jaguar, we will stop by the man-made lake that was created to provide hydro-electricity for the area and is also a wintering ground for many species of resident and migratory waterfowl.
From Jinotega, we head north-west to lower lands that are very fertile and where birds and coffee once again mingle but in a different landscape than we have experienced in the last two stops. This is an area Scott Weidensaul writes is a study in contrasts: lush forest blocks but then denuded landscapes laid bare of trees for cattle pasture. While stark in contrast, Scott continues on to say he saw more birds there than he has seen on any other Central American trip.
This trip will give the participant a great insight into how the balance of economics, community development and global conservation can be done from farm production all the way to the retail buyers dining room table. Scott will lead us in through a variety of topics providing a great opportunity for those of us interested in solving the challenge of balancing conservation and economic issues for the benefit of humans and wildlife. This is a special trip not to be missed, providing time for learning, discussing and problem solving while enjoying some of the most beautiful landscapes and best birding in Central America.