Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network

First Migratory Bird Festival Held on Chiloé Island, Chile

Students in costume performed the mini-play "Flight of Zarapín" during the festival. /
© Diego Luna Quevedo

On the sunny Saturday of 26 November 2011, the Island of Chiloé celebrated its first Migratory Bird Festival, in the town of San Juan. Over 2,000 people participated in what was truly a celebration and welcoming of the shorebirds that had arrived at the Eastern Wetlands of Chiloé WHSRN Site of Hemispheric Importance in recent months. The birds will remain here for the boreal winter, overlapping with the area’s 1st anniversary as a WHSRN site in January 2012.  

The festival was jointly convened by the community of San Juan, Municipality of Dalcahue, and the local non-profit Center for the Study and Conservation of Natural Heritage (CECPAN by its Spanish acronym). This event was one of the activities to be carried out through the project “Migratory Shorebirds Conservation Plan for Chiloé,” with support from the David & Lucille Packard Foundation. The project is led by Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences (USA) along with a coalition of international and local partners, including the nongovernmental organizations CECPAN and Conservación Marina as well as Chile’s Ministry of the Environment.

Hudsonian Godwit
(Limosa haemastica) /
© Blair Nikula

The eastern wetlands of Chiloé are of great importance for 27% of the global population of Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica) and fully 99% of the Pacific Coast population. These wetlands also support 61% of the Pacific Coast population of Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus). Both species breed in North America and are considered of high conservation concern.

The festival’s agenda was enriched by a variety of activities, lectures, and exhibits that blended science, education, culture, art, music, photography, local folklore, traditional way of life, handicrafts and other local products, plus opportunities to go birdwatching in the field with local guides. There was much joy, color, and emotions from people connecting with birds throughout the festival. One of the highlights was the mini-play “Flight of Zarapín,” a story about a migratory shorebird, brilliantly performed by children in the Dalcahue Elementary School. Another was the variety of traditional meat- and seafood-based dishes and soups available to sample.

Mayor Don Alfredo Hurtado welcomed everyone to the island's first Migratory Bird Festival, in Dalcahue. / © Diego Luna Quevedo

At the opening of the event, the Mayor of the Municipality of Dalcahue, Don Alfredo Hurtado, welcomed everyone and described shorebirds as being “part of Chiloé’s heritage that together we must preserve.”  WHSRN representative and Southern Cone Program Coordinator Diego Luna Quevedo noted, “The fact that Chiloé receives thousands of shorebirds every year is not an accident but the result of a close, historical and balanced relationship between man and habitats on the island. Today more than ever we need to reestablish and maintain these sustainable traditional practices.”

For more information, contact Diego Luna Quevedo (diego.luna@manomet.org), Southern Cone Program Coordinator, Shorebird Recovery Project, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences.