The Bahamas

Audubon has a history of conservation work in The Bahamas, having been engaged with collaborative efforts in the country since the 1950s. To date, Audubon has helped bring the American Flamingo back from the brink of extinction by hiring the first-ever wardens for the country to manage the flocks, delivered the science that helped create the first-ever Land and Sea Park globally in the Exumas, and helped develop science that supported the establishment of legislation to protect birds across the country, including for the most recent designation of Joulter Cays National Park.

About The Bahamas

The Commonwealth of the Bahamas extends 760 miles and covers 95,462 square miles between the southeastern shores of the United States and the northern shores of Cuba. Included in this vast area are more than 700 islands and 2,500 cays. The distinct environment of The Bahamas gives rise to numerous irreplaceable habitats and species, including vast expanses of Caribbean pine forest that support migrating songbirds, extensive tidal flats and mangroves that support shorebirds and waterbirds, and isolated cays that support important breeding seabird populations. Of the 300 bird species documented for The Bahamas, more than 50 percent are migrants from the U.S and Canada, including Audubon’s priority species Piping Plover and American Oystercatcher. Locally important endemic species include Bahama Yellowthroat, Bahama Swallow, Bahama Woodstar, the critically endangered Bahama Oriole restricted to Andros Island (only a few hundred remain), and the Inagua Woodstar, a recently split species from the Bahama Woodstar that is restricted to Great Inagua and Little Inagua islands.

How Audubon Works with Partners in The Bahamas Today

Our work in the Bahamas has evolved to meet the needs of the people and birds that thrive in the region. We have developed local partnerships with organizations, including Bahamas National Trust (BNT), the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, and the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI), and gathered data that tells us community engagement and capacity building is key to moving conservation goals forward.

Today, Audubon Americas' work in the Bahamas focuses on Andros and Inagua Island, and we will expand our reach through two program areas – bird-based tourism and protecting critical sites for birds.

Birding and Ecotourism in The Bahamas

Ecotourism is an economic alternative that can raise incomes in communities living close to biodiversity-rich areas, while helping to conserve natural capital. Among the fastest-growing segments of ecotourists are bird watchers, who tend to have a light footprint on ecosystems and are willing to step outside the tourism mainstream.

Lifting bird-based tourism as an economic and ecological benefit is one of our goals. In the Bahamas, Audubon has partnered with the Inter-American Development Bank and the Bahamas National Trust with support from the Ministry of Tourism. The project has trained local community members to be bird guides and trained two dozen individuals to support citizen-science efforts. Bird tourism in The Bahamas is set to become a key resource for both local communities and natural areas.

Audubon has already made great strides in lifting bird-based tourism and education in the Bahamas; to date, we have:

• Trained 80 local guides on a comprehensive bird guide curriculum tailored to local cultures and languages; provided training for 90 local businesses.

• Developed two birding trails on Andros and Inagua that were added to a network of world-class community-based birding destinations that offer skilled local birding guides, high-quality interpretation and lodging, food services, and related services tailored to the birding market.

• Worked with national tourism agencies, ministries, and the private sector to help them promote the destinations and better define and strengthen the bird tourism niche within each country.

Current projects

Education remains a critical strategy for promoting conservation, inspiring future generations, and increasing awareness throughout local communities. In the Bahamas alone, we have provided environmental and bird education classes to over 716 children and continue to organize training for community scientists and bird guides to move our collective mission forward.

Utilizing science and monitoring to designate protected areas: In 2022, we conducted an initial analysis in which we identified more than 20 sites in the Bahamas that met the biological criteria for nomination as Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) sites. We prioritized two qualified sites, the Joulter Cays and Kemp Cay to Pigeon Cay Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA), which we submitted to be added to the KBA list. We will continue to collate data collected by various local organizations to analyze and designate future sites as KBAs, which allows us to support added protections for species that inhabit the areas.

Building Community Support for Conservation: Robust local partnerships are key to making a lasting impact. We have developed deep connections with local entities, such as Bahamas National Trust and Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, which allows us to gather data across sectors, projects, and regions, to create a holistic picture of where birds are traveling from, overwintering, declining, and thriving. With this data, we can make informed decisions on how to best support bird species, from developing more habitat protections to increasing monitoring and surveys.

Birding and Ecotourism in The Bahamas
Birding and Ecotourism in The Bahamas

In the Bahamas, Audubon has partnered with the Inter-American Development Bank and the Bahamas National Trust with support from the Ministry of Tourism. The project has trained 80 local community members to be bird guides and trained two-dozen individuals to support citizen-science efforts. Bird tourism in The Bahamas is set to become a key resource for both local communities and natural areas.

Birds That Visit the Bahamas
! Priority Bird
Piping Plover
Plovers
! Priority Bird
Red Knot
Sandpipers
! Priority Bird
Least Tern
Gulls and Terns
Royal Tern
Gulls and Terns

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