Category: Migratory Bird Festival

MBF 2016: In the News

We just wanted to give a big shout out to all the local and regional news media that helped us get the word out about the 2016 Migratory Bird Festival! Thank you!!! Here’s a round-up of some of the print and online press.

The Daily Herald, October 2016

Today Newspaper, October 2016

Le Pélican, October 2016

The Daily Herald, October 2016

97150, October 2016

The Daily Herald, October 2016

Today Newspaper, October 2016

97150, October 2016

SXM Fax Info, October 2016

The Daily Herald, October 2016

SXM Fax Info, September 2016

Today Newspaper, September 2016

The Daily Herald, September 2016

Online Articles

SXM Fax Info
Soualiga Newsday
SXM Island Time
Soualiga Post
Pearl FM Radio
SXM Fax Info
Soualiga Newsday
I Eye News
The Daily Herald
SXM Fax Info
Soualiga Newsday
Repeating Islands
Le Pélican
Soualiga Newsday
Anguilla News
Le Pélican
SXM Island Time

New Activities Keep Migratory Bird Festival Fun and Fresh

Guests learn about the Gaïac tree and receive seedlings to plant at home. (Photo by Jovito Hermoso)
Guests learn about the Gaïac tree and receive seedlings to plant at home. (Photo by Jovito Hermoso)

People of all ages came to celebrate migratory birds and learn about the amazing journeys that bring them to St. Martin. It was a record crowd for the Migratory Birds Festival, organized by Les Fruits de Mer. Attendees were treated to a variety of presentations and activities related to migratory birds and the habitats that sustain them.

“The story of bird migration is fascinating, but we also see it as a gateway to learning about the entire ecosystem that surrounds them,” explained Les Fruits de Mer co-founder Mark Yokoyama. “Activities like the Portable Pond Discovery Station and Crabitat highlight the less noticeable critters that sustain many of our birds, and the Club Gaïac seedling giveaway gets people personally involved in restoring native trees.”

This year’s event also showcased the different ways we interact with migratory birds. Ilja Botha, founder of Seagrape Tours, shared her experience offering birding tourism on St. Martin in her presentation. Jenn Yerkes, president of Les Fruits de Mer, presented the story of two women who laid the groundwork for major conservation treaties in their efforts to save egrets from exploitation by the fashion industry. Guests connected with birds through photography and art activities as well.

The Crabitat and Portable Pond brought critters out of the deep and into focus for guests. (Photo by Jovito Hermoso)
The Crabitat and Portable Pond brought critters out of the deep and into focus for guests. (Photo by Jovito Hermoso)

A birdwatching station on the Great Salt Pond, hosted by certified birding guide and Nature Foundation Board Member Binkie van Es was also a favorite. People of all ages learned to use binoculars and bird ID cards to spot Laughing Gulls, Spotted Sandpipers, Great Blue Herons, and other migratory bird species as well as year-round residents like Snowy Egrets, Brown Pelicans, and Magnificent Frigatebirds.

“Hosting the Migratory Bird Festival has been an amazing journey for us as well,” commented Jenn Yerkes. “Each year we’ve been able to expand and enhance the festival with the help of our volunteers, partner University of St. Martin and our sponsors Yacht Club Port de Plaisance, Lagoonies Bistro and Bar, Hotel L’Esplanade, GEBE, Delta Petroleum, BZSE Attorneys at Law, Buccaneer Beach Bar, Aqua Mania Adventures and ACE.”

For those that didn’t make it to the event, a wide variety of event materials are available online for free download. The Pond Life ebook tells the stories of seven wetland birds from St. Martin. Bird masks and coloring pages can be downloaded and printed as an activity for the classroom or the home. An preview clip from Les Fruits de Mer’s in progress documentary about the Great Salt Pond and presentations filmed at the event are available for viewing online viewing. Find all of these materials at:

MBF 2016 in Photos, Part One

The Migratory Bird Festival was fantastic yesterday, thanks to all the volunteers and sponsors! Here’s the first batch of photos from the event (and the volunteer lunch), taken by Jovito Hermoso.

Hotel L’Esplanade – Sponsor Spotlight MBF 2016


There’s no way we could pull off fun, free festivals like the Migratory Bird Festival without the support of our sponsors. We’re very excited to have Hotel L’Esplanade as a returning sponsor this year!

Hotel L’Esplanade
This hotel has established a cult following from guests that enjoy an authentic, luxurious, unpretentious and un-touristy Caribbean experience with a homey feel. Acknowledged by TripAdvisor as one of the Caribbean’s “Best Hidden Gems”, and more recently named #19 of the top 25 hotels in all of the Caribbean. Hotel L’Esplanade has been a benefactor member since 2013 and has sponsored many Les Fruits de Mer events.

Free Migratory Bird Festival Packed With Activities This Sunday

The Migratory Bird Festival will be held on Pond Island in the Great Salt Pond, a key habitat for many birds on St. Martin, including migratory species. (Photo by Mark Yokoyama)
The Migratory Bird Festival will be held on Pond Island in the Great Salt Pond, a key habitat for many birds on St. Martin, including migratory species. (Photo by Mark Yokoyama)

People of all ages are invited to enjoy a marvelous morning of wildlife at the fourth annual Migratory Bird Festival this Sunday, with a full slate of fantastic activities and nature presentations. The event will take place from 9am to noon at the University of St. Martin on Pond Island in Philipsburg. Created by the Les Fruits de Mer association as a celebration of the amazing birds that travel thousands of kilometers each year to visit St. Martin, the festival is free and open to the public.

“The story of bird migration—the astounding distances they fly, their ability to navigate and the way they tie the whole hemisphere together with their travels—is a wonderful gateway to experiencing and understanding so much of St. Martin’s natural history,” explained Les Fruits de Mer co-founder Mark Yokoyama. “For instance, at Sunday’s event, people can do birdwatching with the top experts on the island, but they’ll also get to explore the whole wetland ecosystem these birds depend on, getting up close and personal with the critters that birds eat at the Portable Pond Discovery Station.”

An array of other island wildlife activities await festival-goers this Sunday. They’ll be able to get coaching on how to take better photographs of birds and wildlife at a special workshop with a nature photographer. They can discover the role of indigenous plants and trees at the Club Gaïac Station, dedicated to the Gaïac or Lignum Vitae tree, and even take home free seedlings of this beautiful native tree. They’ll also have a chance to express their artistic side with a bird mask-making craft and wildlife-themed coloring at the Art Activity Station.

Visitors can discover aquatic insects and other creatures at the Portable Pond Discovery Station. (Photo by Olivia Roudon)
Visitors can discover aquatic insects and other creatures at the Portable Pond Discovery Station. (Photo by Olivia Roudon)

In addition to the hands-on activities, a series of multimedia presentations will be offered to the public throughout the event on topics including migratory birds, birding tourism on St. Martin, the best birdwatching spots on the island and the fascinating story of how a fashion trend drove the Snowy Egret to the brink of extinction–and how two women launched key parts of the conservation movement while working to save it at the turn of the 20th century.

“The University of St. Martin is a great place to see experts give these special presentations,” commented Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “Each speaker will be showcasing different topics, so there’s something new to learn all morning long. Plus being able to sit down for ten or fifteen minutes while someone tells a fascinating story about nature is a perfect break from the action of the festival.”

Les Fruits de Mer will also screen a short preview clip from the association’s current documentary film project about the Great Salt Pond and its importance to the ecology, history, economy, culture and identity of the island. Visitors will be invited to share their own thoughts and memories about the Great Salt Pond.

The Migratory Bird Festival is part of International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD), which is celebrated at hundreds of events throughout the Western Hemisphere. The dozens of events held in the Caribbean are under the regional coordination of BirdsCaribbean. The 2016 festival is hosted by Les Fruits de Mer and University of St. Martin. It’s made possible by the hard work of many volunteers and is absolutely free thanks to the generous sponsorship support of Yacht Club Port de Plaisance, Lagoonies Bistro and Bar, Hotel L’Esplanade, GEBE, Delta Petroleum, BZSE Attorneys at Law, Buccaneer Beach Bar, Aqua Mania Adventures and ACE. Visit or find Les Fruits de Mer on Facebook for more information. With covered areas for all the activities, the event will take place rain or shine.

Buccaneer Beach Bar – Sponsor Spotlight MBF 2016


There’s no way we could pull off fun, free festivals like the Migratory Bird Festival without the support of our sponsors. Buccaneer Beach Bar has been a consistent sponsor and supporter of our events an it is great to have their help with this one!

Buccaneer Beach Bar
Conveniently located on Kim Sha Beach, Buccaneer Beach Bar is a friendly watering hole for locals and visitors alike. Relax in the glow of the fireballs on Friday and Sunday evenings, or bring the whole family on Fridays for kids movies on the beach.

Aqua Mania Adventures – Sponsor Spotlight MBF 2016


There’s no way we could pull off fun, free festivals like the Migratory Bird Festival without the support of our sponsors. Aqua Mania Adventures has been a long-time supporter of this event and it’s great to have them back this year!

Aqua Mania Adventures
Aqua Mania Adventures is a one-stop vacation shop that offers departures to Saba, St. Barths, Anguilla and Prickly Pear, as well as sunset cruises around St. Maarten. Lovers of marine life can book half-day snorkel trips to Creole Rock or scuba diving with Dive Adventures. Strategically located at the Simpson Bay Resort marina, the “Leisure Technicians” at Aqua Mania Adventures will help you plan an unforgettable vacation.

St. Martin and the Caribbean Spread Their Wings for Migratory Bird Celebrations


There’s a rustling in the hedgerow, and a fluttering in the branches. In the Caribbean islands, we are starting to hear different voices and our gardens and landscapes are filled with bright new colors. Our “winter visitors” are arriving, and we welcome them every year.

Many may be surprised to learn that the Caribbean is a winter home for dozens of different migratory bird species. Now in its 26th year, International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) highlights the amazing story of these birds and the importance of protecting them. While IMBD events happen across the Western Hemisphere throughout the year, most Caribbean events happen in the October, a particularly busy month for migratory birds in the West Indies.

On St. Martin, the flagship IMBD event is the Migratory Bird Festival. This festival will be held at University of St. Martin on Pond Island from 9am to noon on Sunday, October 16th. Activities will include presentations on a variety of topics, birdwatching, arts and crafts and other interactive activities celebrating our migratory birds and the local habitats that support and sustain them. The event is produced by the Les Fruits de Mer association, with sponsorship support from Yacht Club Port de Plaisance, Lagoonies Bistro and Bar, Hotel L’Esplanade, GEBE, Delta Petroleum, BZSE Attorneys at Law, Buccaneer Beach Bar, Aqua Mania Adventures and ACE.

Environment for the Americas (EFTA) coordinates IMBD across the Western Hemisphere. BirdsCaribbean is the regional organizer, coordinating all kinds of activities throughout the islands. Refuges, parks, museums, schools, botanical gardens and protected areas host events that reach about 100,000 people each year just in the Caribbean.

The 2016 theme is Spread Your Wings for Bird Conservation, in recognition of the Centennial of the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty, which makes it unlawful to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill or sell migratory birds. The treaty does not discriminate between live or dead birds, and also grants full protection to any bird parts including feathers, eggs and nests. Over 800 species are currently on the list of protected birds.

This year IMBD partners seek to highlight how laws, treaties and protected areas help conserve our migratory birds, and what the average citizen can do to help. The beautiful 2016 IMBD poster shows eleven migratory bird species in flight, ten of which have benefited from conservation laws. One of these species is the Whimbrel, one of the widest-ranging shorebirds in the world that can fly for 4,000 kilometers non-stop. The poster was designed by Canada-based artist Lionel Worrell, who spent his early years in the Caribbean.

These delightful birds, that travel so far every year, represent a significant part of the biodiversity of the Americas. They are cause for celebration! BirdsCaribbean invites its friends and partners across the region to engage in activities that will not only help these birds continue to spread their wings across the ocean, for example by preserving their habitats. The IMBD events also aim to educate and inform Caribbean residents (young and not so young) on their remarkable lives.

How many migratory birds can you find on your island this winter? Let’s spread our wings and celebrate our remarkable feathered friends!

BZSE – Sponsor Spotlight MBF 2016


There’s no way we could pull off fun, free festivals like the Migratory Bird Festival without the support of our sponsors. We’re very excited to have BZSE as a first-time sponsor this year!

BZSE Attorneys at Law
Quality, continuity and stability are the foundations of the personalized approach by BZSE. In both the civil law as well as in the tax practice, the attorneys and tax lawyers have many years of outstanding service in Sint Maarten. BZSE has grown into the largest law firm in Sint Maarten.

Mark Yokoyama – Meet the Team MBF 2016


Mark Yokoyama will be presenting on the amazing journeys taken by migratory birds each year. He’ll also be there to give you some bird photography pointers.

Mark is an American naturalist, author and wildlife educator residing on Saint Martin. He has published two editions of The Incomplete Guide to the Wildlife of Saint Martin, the first book of its kind on the island, and is currently working on a guide to the terrestrial wildlife of Sint Eustatius. He is co-founder and Treasurer of the non-profit association Les Fruits de Mer. Les Fruits de Mer activities include public wildlife events, e-books on wildlife subjects, short documentary films, and Amuseum Naturalis, a pop-up natural history museum.

ACE – Sponsor Spotlight MBF 2016


There’s no way we could pull off fun, free festivals like the Migratory Bird Festival without the support of our sponsors. We’re very excited to have ACE as a first-time sponsor this year!

One of the main players in the field of hardware, building supplies and home appliances on St. Maarten for several decades, it has been the company’s goal to offer consumers quality products and utmost customer satisfaction. ACE also values its social responsibility to the community of St Maarten, and has proven itself in supporting numerous local youth activities, cultural events and fundraisings.

Binkie van Es – Meet the Team MBF 2016


Binkie van Es will be in charge of the birdwatching station at the event, where he’ll be teaching about birds, helping you with some bird photography tips and getting you hooked on birdwatching!

Originally from the Netherlands, Binkie has lived in Sint Maarten since 1986 and became a serious birder over the last few years. He is a member of BirdsCaribbean, a board member of Nature Foundation St. Maarten and a volunteer for EPIC and Les Fruits de Mer. He is also a certified Caribbean Birding Trail Guide and a bird educator and trainer for the BirdSleuth Caribbean program.

Ilja Botha – Meet the Team MBF 2016


Ilja Botha will be presenting at the 2016 Migratory Bird Festival on her experience with birding and nature tourism and giving you the inside scoop on all the best spots to go birding on St. Martin!

Birdwatching tour guide Ilja Botha is born in The Netherlands and moved to St Maarten 8 years go. Her love for all things nature she inherited from her mother who pointed out and named every bird, bug and flower they came across in her youth. Until the beginning of 2016 Ilja worked in sales and marketing in the local scuba diving industry, she recently quit her ‘normal job’ to be able to fully focus on Seagrape Tours, an eco tour company she runs together with her husband David Botha. Ilja is a great example of how we can depend on nature as our livelihood and is a passionate advocate of the preservation of St Maarten’s nature, historical sites and birds.

Free Pond Life Ebook Released for 2016 Migratory Bird Festival


In preparation for their upcoming Migratory Bird Festival, Les Fruits de Mer have released a free ebook, Pond Life. With vivid photography and fascinating facts, the book showcases seven bird species that are found on St. Martin’s ponds. Pond Life is available for free download on the association’s website.

“St. Martin’s ponds are perhaps the best place on the island to observe birds and other wildlife, especially during the peak of the migration season in early fall,” commented Pond Life author Mark Yokoyama. “When our resident wetland species are joined by seasonal migrants, our ponds are incredibly vibrant with a mix of birds that can change daily.”

Ponds are ideal for birdwatching because they offer unobstructed views, and several dozen species live and forage there. On St. Martin, birdwatching is not only a fun hobby, but also a potential tourism market. A recent study in the United States found that $17 billion was spent annually on travel for bird and wildlife watching. St. Martin is well-positioned to benefit from this market because its best birding locations—like the Great Salt Pond, where the Migratory Bird Festival will be held—are so easily accessible.

“The annual migration of birds from North America to the Caribbean is one of the most incredible and inspiring stories about nature in St. Martin, and the Pond Life ebook is a great way to learn about it,” explained Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “The Migratory Bird Festival is another, and we’re putting together a fantastic program this year.”

The ebook Pond Life and the details about this year’s Migratory Bird Festival are available at The festival will be held from 9am to noon on Sunday, October 16th at University of St. Martin on Pond Island in Philipsburg. The festival, now in its fourth year, is free to the public and all are invited.

MBF 2015: Dog Island Restoration Presentation

As we explored this years theme Restore Habitat, Restore Birds, we were lucky to have some colleagues from Anguilla presenting on one of the most fascinating habitat restoration techniques, the eradication of invasive animals. Devon Carter and Giovanni Hughes of the Anguilla National Trust present Dog Island Restoration Project: From Eradication to Monitoring at Les Fruits de Mer’s 2015 Migratory Bird Festival on St. Martin.

You can also download their presentation (PPT).

MBF 2015: A History of Salt Presentation

This engaging presentation was given to a standing room only crowd at the Migratory Bird Festival 2015. Dr. Jay Haviser of SIMARC, the St. Maarten Archaeological Center, presents on the heritage of salt on the island of St. Martin. The story of salt on St. Martin is the fascinating story of the island and its people, from prehistory to today.

The presentation was given at University of St. Martin, located on Pond Island in the Great Salt Pond.

You can also download the PowerPoint presentation (5.4MB, PPT).

MBF 2015: Incredible Journeys Presentation

We had a wonderful roster of presenters at Migratory Bird Festival 2015, and thanks to a generous donation from a Les Fruits de Mer member, we were able to videotape the presentations. We’re going to work on getting the rest of the presentations up soon, and we look forward to doing more (and better!) video work in the future. To kick things off, we have Mark Yokoyama’s presentation Incredible Journeys: Migratory Birds on St. Martin. The video is below and you can also download the presentation and presenter’s notes.

Download the presentation: Presentation (PDF 4MB), Presentation Notes (RTF).

Download Our Happy Bird-day Cards for Free


Our happy bird-day and other bird-themed greeting cards were pretty popular at Migratory Bird Festival 2015. Now you can download them for free and make your own! Color and create with these bird-themed cards, created for Migratory Bird Festival 2015. A great activity for people of all ages, everyone can leave with cards to give to friends or family. Their available below and on our Art Activities resources page, where we also have other fun activities.

Download for free: English, 10 designs A4 paperEnglish, 10 designs, Letter paperFrench, 4 designs, A4 paperFrench, 4 designs, Letter paper.


  1. Print on A4 or Letter card stock.
  2. Cut sheets in half using a paper cutter.
  3. Color and fold the cards.
  4. It is great to provide examples, particularly for the cards with space for drawing your own design.