Honduras is a wealthy country when it comes to biodiversity, especially in the area where I am living along with hundreds of species of birds. I have been interested, or nearly obsessed, with bird-watching for some time. I may be talking with a friend, but if I see something fluttering up there… (a bird!) my gaze begins to wander away from the conversation, like a small and curious child.
We arrived in San Marcos with great expectations for ornithology. Birds of a thousand different colors fly overhead, and the orange trees in our garden attract hummingbirds, woodpeckers and golden orioles that from time to time pay us a friendly visit. I often grab my binoculars and go out to watch them, but I am still a little embarrassed. The people of San Marcos don’t go walking for pleasure, they go somewhere when they have something to do at their destination… and all of a sudden here comes that silly gringo watching birds with that strange contraption, and maybe with a camera, too. I watch birds and everyone else watches me. It’s uncomfortable at times but I take it as part of my job: to protect the birds I have to first get to know them. So I get over it and continue on with my task.
My dream is to see a toucan. I had high hopes to see something so special. I knew there were some out there, at least a few, and that I would see one sooner or later. And that’s how it happened: one day we saw it, but not in a tree. It was dead, by the river. In San Marcos children have a few favorite hobbies: playing soccer, gossiping a bit, watching a movie every once in a while, going to church and killing birds with stones. They do it without malice; it’s simply a way to pass the time. You ask them why, and they just smile. Some say that they are going to eat the birds – yeah right! – a humming bird has less meat on it than a cockroach!
So I started to dream and imagine all the things we could do. We’ve made a great contact, and a good friend, Fito Steiner. He is a conservationist and he suggested to me that I start a bird-watching club. He could even train us and get us some materials such as information sheets and binoculars. How exciting! For the time being he has lent me a guidebook with wonderful illustrations that will be useful, among other things, for making drawings with the boys and girls of San Marcos and identifying the birds in the area. Soon we’ll see if the youth trade in their slingshots and shotguns for binoculars and cameras.