Birdwatcher aims to boost Latino interest in hobby

April 11, 2014
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When Isabel Mendez retired, she returned to a hobby she had picked up during college: birdwatching. But she encountered a lack of Spanish-language literature as she researched the study of birds.

Mendez is now attempting to rectify that problem through a project that targets the Latino population of the city, including creating Spanish-language literature. The project is part of her study in the bird certificate program of the wildlife organization Mass Audubon.

“I want to garner the interest of birdwatching for the Latino people in Boston,” she said.

Mendez said she enjoys birdwatching “tremendously,” saying that encountering a new bird is “very exciting” and that it is “interesting to see them interact, defend their territory and call their mates.” But when she dug deeper into the study of birds, she found there was hardly any literature in Spanish, especially urban information.

“I want to have a central place for [Spanish-speaking] novices and make it easier for them,” said Mendez.

She has begun making presentations at the Boston Nature Center and has been writing Spanish articles for newspapers, including El Mundo. Her articles have been on how to find raptors, also known as birds of prey, at the Arnold Arboretum or Jamaica Pond when they are migrating; how accessible marine birds, such as ducks, are at Boston Harbor; and that there are songbirds at the Boston Nature Center that sound like a symphony.

“It’s very satisfying to contribute a little to the understanding of the importance of birds in the world,” she said.

Mendez said that at a lot of the birdwatching seminars she has attended in the past, she was the only Latino in the group. She said one reason she thinks there are so few Latino birdwatchers is that they don’t know where the resources are.

“There are a lot of resources right in their back yard. I think there’ll be a lot of interest from the Latino community,” said Mendez.

She has also created a Facebook page where Latinos interested in birdwatching can meet and find information in Spanish. That can be found at facebook.com/avepaloozaurbana.

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