ALL ABOUT BIRDS OF THE WORLD
A bit of history about NATURE WORLDWIDE, the oldest website providing checklists of the birds of the world by country
World's largest and most comprehensive website ABOUT BIRDS AND NATURE covers it all: 2000 pages about birds, nature, birdwatching, where to go birding, bird and nature pictures, nature conservation, equipment, bird feeding, etc. Let me tell you a bit why and how it all started. First a bit about myself. For a long time, NATURE WORLDWIDE was a fairly anonymous website about birds of the world by country. But then I thought, maybe you, the web visitor, might actually like to know a bit about who is behind these lists of the bird of the world. So let me introduce myself. I am Daan Vreugdenhil, have a PhD in conservation ecology, and dedicated the 4 decades of my career to the conservation of nature, for which I visited some 80 countries and learned to speak 6 foreign languages, my native language being Dutch.
The idea of making a website about the birds of the world by country occurred to me in the mid-nineties when there were still no non-commercial websites on line, providing bird information by country. As a lifetime conservation professional I was - and still am - extremely concerned about the lack of visitation in protected areas in developing countries. World wide, only a few of them enjoy a million visitors per year or more, the majority of them located in China. the best visited areas in most countries have a few hundred thousand of visitors per year at best and even the famous waterfalls of Iguašu National Park on the border between Argentina and Brazil only enjoys approximately 1 million visitors per year. The vast majority of areas get no more than a few hundreds per year! With so few benefits to the countries concerned, these areas are under great threat as their forests are cut down and wildlife is being hunted to extinction.
While working full time on assisting governments in developing countries, I kept on thinking how I could show people the way to find those fabulous national parks and nature reserves, so desperate in need of visitation. One day it occurred to me that birdwatchers are the most active "ecotourists" in the international ecotourism market. And what do travelling ecotourists want: Right, the list of the all birds of the country they intend to visit. So, what if I could offer a website All about Birds of the World by country? In those days, the Internet still was small compared to now, and if I remember well, there was only one site that tried to distribute data information by country from its own birding software, which needed to be purchased.
Mision of NATURE WORLDWIDE
The mission of the website is to contribute to the conservation of nature and to help secure the future of all birds and other species in their natural environments by providing information about birds, protected areas, and nature across the Internet.
Data sources for Birds of the World
At the time, there was no database in existence that I was aware off, so I bought the Sibley and Monroe's A World Checklist of Birds, tried to scan it, but that did not work with the software in those days. The names had to be typed by hand. So I hired a bunch of students and young biologists in Latin America to enter more than 13 000 names of species and subspecies of what probably was one of the first complete databases in the world listing all species of the birds of the world. Ahhh, so many typing mistakes.............. So those were the humble beginnings. I bought all the bird guides I could get me hands on, while my students kept coding away into that database. When I felt I had enough data, I acquired birdlist.org and birdlist.com and went on line in 1998. As the internet developed and grew, more and more data became available, and one country and one state at the time, our data from bird guides were replaced by data from country and state committees for maintaining an official list. However, each committee uses its own methodology and coding, so we had to figure out a way to interpret those data so that you, the birder could have a better idea on when to expect a bird and how great the likelihood would be to actually encounter it. We developed a coding system indicating abundance and residing status, such as breeding, migration, wintering, endemic, etc. So depending on the source, the original data are now in the process of being updated and interpreted to our best ability to from the most recent sources available.
Integrated web domains
Currently we are working with a fulltime database manager in Bolivia, who scans the net for more information and continuously enters the data into our database. But the real challenge is on how to inform potential travelers to a country about the protected areas? That is why we created a domain about national parks en other protected areas. Moreover, we have tons of really good information on nature and nature conservation. So we bought about 30 domains, each for a different theme that we wanted to develop. The most important ones are:
Nature World wide, Mammals World wide and National Parks World wide are each automatically linked from page to page so that you can jump back and forth between the country pages of those websites. That way, we are connecting All about Birds of the World, with information about National Parks of the World and link information on Nature of the World, on a country page bases, providing checklists per country for birds and mammals and information on nature we find interesting. So, as our websites developed, we found that it was more appropriate to call them collectively "Nature World wide" followed by the theme of each domain. You can also find extremes, like the fastest bird of the world, the largest bird of the world, the smallest bird of the world, the widest bird of the world, et.c
The World Institute for Conservation and Environment, WICE
Originally incorporated (created) in 1989 to support a conservation effort to rescue the greatly threatened Cuyabeno Wildlife reserve with more visitation, by the mid nineties, the World Institute for Conservation and Environment expanded its orientation as it took charge of the creation and hosting of the websites you are now enjoying. It has been involved in many conservation efforts, the latest being the incorporation of the Adopt A Ranger Foundation.
All About Birds of the World and other languages
Having traveled to and worked in so many countries, I learned how most people struggle with the names of birds in other languages, so I started collecting names of species in local languages. In fact, it is the single most important obstacle for people to learn recognizing different species. How can you remember and distinguish them, if you can't name them? So far we collected the names of birds in some 20 languages, and completing the entire lists of the Birds of the World in Spanish, French, German and Dutch, while some volunteers are currently working on the Portuguese names. I have also put a lot of effort to have at least some key texts in some of the more common European languages. This has been criticized at times by some, always being native English speakers, who of course are completely happy being served in their own language. Well, sorry Anglos, there are more languages around than you learned in school :)
Finding your way
Enough talk, go to the pages about BIRDS OF THE WORLD
For finding your way in our almost 2,000 pages, we invite you to our site map where you can choose from many themes on nature, or use the short version in our navigation bar in the left border.
I hope you enjoy our websites, which has been completely created with my own money and lots of un-paid late night hours. If you want to volunteer a bit of your time by helping translating a page or two or by any other way you like, please send me an email.
Dr. Ir. Daan Vreugdenhil
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