CACAO - Honduras

$2,020 of $4,000 goal

Raised by 27 people in 39 months

Cooperative Avian Conservation And Outreach

Help us fund our conservation project in one of the most threatened regions of Central America!

Cacao - Honduran colloquial name for the threatened Red-throated Caracara, one of our target species that has nearly disappeared from Central America in the past few decades.

We are a small but passionate volunteer group of American and Honduran  biologists, geographers, students, researchers, and guides and we plan to spend 20 days this January in Honduras leading a research expedition to the eastern portion of the country. We will work with local conservation pioneers and preserves to survey and promote the wide diversity of bird life in this very special region. We would love to have your support to meet our goals, so that we can collaborate with local conservationists in the most productive way possible.

This is the first project supported by the Partners in Neotropical Bird Conservation, a group of environmentalists, biologists, and passionate birders who are dedicated to studying and promoting the conservation of neotropical migrants throughout North, Central, and northern South America. 

Please read further for more information, including our goals and itinerary. And check out other supporting organizations:

Honduran Conservation Coalition
Juniata Valley Audubon Society
Asociacion Hondurena de Ornithologia (ASHO) 


In Honduras, a keystone country in the Mesoamerican Biological Hotspot, preserves and the environment have benefited very little from large conservation initiatives. Honduras’ 750+ bird species and the thousands of other species of flora and fauna have been scantly provided for by the millions upon millions of dollars spent in large, misguided conservation efforts over the past few decades. Alternatively, the modest funds generated from birding activities, if invested directly into local economies, can better help birds by stimulating communities and individuals towards protecting birds and their habitats.

Birders provide the critical service of helping document bird species that are threatened by damaging activities such as mining and energy development. These projects frequently proceed with poor or absent biological data, and communities that try to stop them and protect the environment are pushed out of the way and even destroyed, with environmental activists at constant risk of life and limb. Birders can help by not only donating portions of tour proceeds to local bird conservation initiatives, but also by carrying out rapid assessments of avian populations in the many areas with little or no existing documentation.

A particularly special eco-region that can be found throughout the country are cloud forests. These wet, tropical forest are characterized by frequent, low-level cloud cover. Honduras has over 50 cloud forests alone, of which only six are well-surveyed and at least 20 are completely unknown. Little-known populations, new subspecies, and potentially even unknown species lurk in these areas and proving their existence will not only raise Honduras’ profile enormously, but also help communities provide more ironclad justification for protecting their habitats. In turn, these habitats also serve as their own critical water sources and sustainable extraction reserves. The same can be said of the vast pine forest, dry forests, and rain forests that in many cases are also poorly surveyed, particularly in the eastern portions of the country. 


-Collaborate with Isidro Zuniga and the Las Orquideas Biological Reserve, helping to improve it as a private reserve, as a bird tourism location, and as a center for conservation outreach

-Carry out the first rapid avian assessment of Botaderos National Park, an isolated mountain range gravely threatened by iron mining concessions; focus on Red-throated Caracara, Scarlet Macaw, Three-wattled Bellbird (etc.)

-Rapid assessment of rain forests and pine savannas at the Mabita research station, run by an indigenous Miskito community, in the Rus-Rus  Biological Reserve, with an emphasis on poorly-documented species and scarce raptors and psittacids.


-Collaborate with Honduran birders and bird conservationists

-Generate data on bird diversity in little-known, protected reserves and on specific target species of conservation importance

-Raise awareness of environmental justice issues such as mining and energy development that threaten local communities and preserves

-Raise funds for local Honduran bird conservation initiatives

-Help train local bird guides

-Document little-known taxa and search for new taxa in some of Central America’s most isolated forests

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We finished up the 2nd portion of the expedition to Parque Nacional Botaderos and Don Isidro's nature reserve, Las Orquideas. We were able to follow local reports of Red-throated Caracara from 2 months prior, 8 days, 3 days, and even on the same day, but couldn't actually get eyes or ears on one. But we did manage to find a Golden-cheeked Warbler, a pair of Ocellated Quail, a "Winged Warbler Sweep" (Golden-winged, Lawrence's, Brewster's, and Blue-winged Warblers), and a cooperative Wedge-tailed Sabrewing (this is the only place in Honduras to find this species, which has an isolated population near PN Sierra de Agalta). We also made contact with a local guide who has detailed knowledge of PN Botaderos and the region's population of Red-throated Caracaras. We didn't know what to expect with only 6 days to explore such a vast region, but we're happy with the results. And now we have details goals for the future. We'll post more updates as we work through our data and look to publish! Thanks again for the support!
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We've completed the first portion of our expedition in Honduras. We had an incredible experience with the Miskito community at the Apaupauni Field Station in Mabita. We recorded 280+ species of birds in 10 days (including Harpy Eagle, Crane Hawk, Stripe-breasted Wren, Snowy Cotinga, Jabiru, Black Rail, and Sedge Wren), expanded known ranges of 28 species, and recorded one new species for Honduras! We'll send out more updates about the new record after we can do more research. Tomorrow we head to the department of Olancho and Parque Nacional Botaderos!
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Thank you to everyone who read about our project, shared the story, and donated! We were able to raise a total of $5,400. I know I'm forever grateful for friends and family for their support. And the birding and conservation community as a whole is truly amazing. The expedition starts tomorrow. We'll be in La Moskitia by Friday morning!
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Team Post #4 features a friend of mine, who I met on my previous trip to Honduras this past winter. Gilberto Flores-Walter is an entrepreneuring bird tour guide who has been rapidly exploring Honduras and the world to learn more about birds, conservation, and the people interested in both. Here's a brief biography about this proud family man and rising birder in Honduras:

Gilberto is currently finishing a degree in Ecotourism at the Metropolitan University, is a member of the Honduran Ornithologist Association (ASHO), of which he took office for short period as VP in 2015. Presently he is the coordinator of the Alzacuanes Birding Club of Tegucigalpa and the Pacific region of Honduras (one of the 8 birding clubs of Honduras members of ASHO). He has loved the outdoors since he was a child and has particularly taken to nature photography. Gilberto is a specialized birding guide trained by the USAID ProParque Project and has been working with birds for 3 years (monitoring, bird census activities, mist-netting, eBird, and as a birding guide). This year he started to operate his own company "Feathers Eco-Birding Tours" and has participated in international fairs such as the 2016 British Bird Fair in Rutland (UK); and as a complementary activity he have been working as a Honduran Avifauna Consultant. He’s also the production manager of Las Palmas Private Natural Reserve, and a member of the Private Natural Reserves Network of Honduras (REHNAP).

This CACAO expedition will cover 1 of only 2 departments that Gilberto hasn't visited yet. La Moskitia is also of great importance worldwide as it is considered the largest humid tropical rainforest in Central America. This is a great opportunity to contribute to the avifauna research in the region. He is hoping to organize bird tours to La Moskitia through Feathers Birding in the near future.
Gilberto representing Feathers Ecotours
Gilberto Flores-Walter
Gilberto bird-blitzing Lago Yojoa
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$2,020 of $4,000 goal

Raised by 27 people in 39 months
Created June 9, 2016
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Jason Hill
32 months ago

What an outstanding idea--desperately needed!!

Diane Allison
32 months ago

Great project- best wishes for much success!!!

Margaret Brittingham
32 months ago

Good luck Ian and Alex

Josh & Alicia Horst
32 months ago

Merry Christmas! Good luck on your trip. You Rock!!!

chad kauffman
32 months ago

Enjoy this opportunity and be safe

Kelsey Deck
32 months ago

Climb those mountains. See the birds. Do good over there. Good luck. Continue to make everyone proud. Have a fun expedition.

Julia Plummer
32 months ago

Good luck with the research and conservation efforts.

Pamela Albert
32 months ago

Have a wonderful trip! Would love a signed bird photo for my granddaughter - she loves birds!

Quetzal Tours
32 months ago

Thank you for your efforts!

Susan Hannon
32 months ago

Good luck to your research and safe travel!

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