Hundreds Flock to Migratory Bird Festival

Cul-de-Sac, September 29, 2013 – Over 200 guests, young and old, came to enjoy the Migratory Bird Festival on Sunday morning at Étang de la Barrière in Cul-de-Sac.  

The event included guided birdwatching tours on the newly-built wooden boardwalk trail through the mangrove wetlands, nature photography tips, and a variety of bird-themed art activities for children.

The festival was a celebration of the migratory birds that fly thousands of miles each year between their summer breeding grounds in North America and their wintering grounds in South America and the Caribbean. Attendees learned about the miraculous voyages these birds make, and how important St. Martin’s beaches and salt ponds are to their survival. For many, it was also their first visit to the Mangrove Discovery Trail. One of the best trails of its kind in the Caribbean, it offers easy access into one of the island’s most important ecosystems.

This was the first big public event organized by Les Fruits de Mer, a non-profit association based in Grand Case. "Helping people experience and enjoy local nature and art is the mission of our association," explains Les Fruits de Mer President Jennifer Yerkes. "By sharing the story of these amazing birds through tours and art activities, we were able to do both. We’re thrilled the event was such a big success, and it’s only the beginning."

The event was co-hosted by the Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin and the Conservatoire du Littoral, who built the Discovery Trail and lead guided tours in French. Many other partners, both local and international contributed to the event, including Environmental Protection in the Caribbean, For the LOVE of Grand Case, the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association, Art Summer Camp SXM, Palm Beach, The Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds, and Environment for the Americas.

Although the event was primarily attended by residents this year, regional efforts like the Caribbean Birding Trail seek to promote the Caribbean as a birdwatching destination for tourists. In the United States alone, 72 million people spend over $17 billion on travel for birding and wildlife watching. St. Martin is particularly attractive to migratory birds because of the large number of salt ponds on the island. The peak months for these birds on St. Martin coincide with the low-season for tourism in the late spring and fall. Long-term, developing this type of tourism on the island could provide important low-season tourism revenues for St. Martin.

The Mangrove Discovery Trail is free and open to the public, and located just beside the Pinel ferry dock in Cul-de-Sac. Signs on the trail explaining the mangrove wetland and its inhabitants offer the perfect self-guided tour in English and French. For information about future events by the Les Fruits de Mer association, visit or follow Les Fruits de Mer on Facebook.