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Open Mic: A Birders’ Exchange Success Story

At the Mic: Alexander Alvarado

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March 2011.

I was finishing my first tour with a group from USA when a company called High Lonesome Bird Tours hired me to be with them. My emotions were very high after my first experience birding with 10 people. The day after I met a guy from Spain who works in Bolivia, and I was telling him that all I needed was birding equipment to push the birding to young people and any others who were interested. He said to me that I should look for help on internet, and that there is an organization called ABA and they have a program where they cooperate with people who have ideas like mine.

After the conversation I went to a computer and found it was true. There was a program supporting people as me, that was Birders’ Exchange. So I filled up an application and send it to a lady called Betty Petersen, she replied to me the next day and she said yes, we can help you. Just give us an address in the USA where we can send you equipment and books.

I could not believe it! After being out for about 10 days enjoying people and birds I was accomplishing such cooperation. So I considered this as my Big Year! It took me a while to find someone who would bring the equipment but 3 months later, I got in touch with some friends in Maryland and they helped out! My first day with the scope I went to Rio Copan nearby my home and I had fabulous views of many great birds. I received a Kowa Scope and tripod, Bushnell Binoculars, and a Honduran Bird Book. I considered this the most special gift I ever received in my life!

I repeated this in my mind many times – how someone who doesn’t know me can do this for me – so I wrote Betty giving thanks for the special package. I think that Birders’ Exchange is a great idea to give people the opportunity to enjoying birds and wildlife. I am sure this is changing lives as it did with me. After a few years I had nice experiences with birds and I had improved my equipment. That first Kowa scope ended in local birding club in western Honduras. My binoculars went to a teacher who used birds to increase awareness to preserve forest. The book its in a special place at Home. A couple of years ago I met Jeff Gordon and Liz Gordon, the President of ABA. He came to Honduras and I told them about my experience with Birders’ Exchange and they gave me the sad news that Betty was gone. I felt very bad because I wanted to know her.  I am pretty sure she is in a better place as she deserves for her kindness.

While I had the equipment I went to probably 40 or 50 schools with an educational project and a message that we must protect the Scarlet Macaws and all birds around Copan. This opened the window to meet more conservation people in Honduras and know more about biodiversity in my country.

Today I can say Thanks Birders’ Exchange!

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Alexander Alvarado is a bird tour guide in Honduras. To learn more about the work that Birders’ Exchange does in Honduras and around the Americas or to donate optics, books, or other equipment, see our website.

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The ABA Blog's Open Mics offer an opportunity for members of the birding community to share their voice with the ABA audience. We accept all and any submissions. If you have something you'd like to share, please contact blog editor Nate Swick at [email protected]
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