Mirada de Aves/ Birds’ Eye View is a community of learning and practice for environmental conservation and human wellbeing through birding. This grassroots initiative is in the rural- agricultural town of Santo Domingo in the Venezuelan Andes. It was born in 2021 out of a bird-banding experience and the sense of awe it arose at learning about every bird caught (and released!) whether because it had traveled thousands of miles along the continent, because it was endemic, or because it was part of a resilient species. Migratory birds are evidence of the interconnectedness among different areas of the world and of how our mountains are part of a continental and global ecosystem.
Santo Domingo is located by the Santo Domingo River Basin, a major flyway for migratory birds and home to about 146 bird species, including at least 4 endemics. This information is well known by many bird observers and scientist from around the world, but not by many residents, specially by the younger ones. That is why we began a birds observation basics class for high school students at the local school that turned into a birding club for young and adults. We see our club as a community of learning and practice in which birds are a gateway to learning about our diverse ecosystems and climate change, and about conservation and resilience. The attractiveness of birds can promote awareness and conservation through eco-tourism and regenerative farming entrepreneurships. Most Venezuelans feel stagnated in a social, economic, and political system that seems to deliberately squeeze out any glimpse of hope and optimism. Nature can inspire gratefulness, and its protection, a sense of purpose, both important elements to improve mental health. Nature conservation requires our youth to gain skills in STEM, storytelling, conflict resolution, critical and creative thinking, fundraising and other areas that can help them be better prepared for other endeavors and for life general. We want to join Conservation Now because we want to let our youth and community know that we are not alone, and instead we’re part of a larger community of people and organizations working for environmental conservation from who we can learn from. We’d also want to use this platform to let the world know about the major threats to our ecosystems, and to ask for support- in the form of knowledge, skills, and financial resources for possible solutions. In other words, we believe that by being members of Conservation Optimism, can help us strengthen our optimism through connection and inspiration.