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(Nanegalito Ecuador)  –   “I wondered why there were boots in the truck when you picked me up at the airport,” my friend Marie stated as we were leaving the Paz Bird Refuge (Refugio Paz de las Aves)

Like many nature enthusiasts, I had read Noah Strycker’s Smithsonian story:  Why Birdwatchers Flock to Ecuador  and secretly plotted to surprise Marie with a unique start to her visit.

One visits Refugio de las Aves with expectations of a positive birding experience – and gets that.   One also leaves with a lighter heart, thanks to the spell of a magical realm that began years earlier when Angel Paz tossed those first worms to an elusive and whimsical little bird he named, ‘Maria.’  (in honor of his wife.)

Strycker states in the 2015 story, ” Ángel Paz could be the poster child of local-scale birding. Paz used to log trees on his cloud forest property but realized eight years ago that he could earn more through ecotourism and farming blackberries. When he discovered that visiting birders went crazy over seeing a giant antpitta, he gradually befriended a pair of the birds, naming the female Maria. That led to him becoming obsessed, and soon knowledgeable, about other bird species in the forest. “

Who wouldn’t want to meet this man, his family, and witness the admirable work he was quietly doing?

We experienced the magic of Angel Paz and his feathered friends’ private performances.

Angel Paz

We nibbled ‘mora’ (blackberries/raspberries) as we walked the trails.

We witnessed Angel’s brother Rodrigo calling the birds, and I wistfully recalled when my father mimicked the wild turkeys with the aid of a supple green leaf.

Rodrigo Paz calling his feathered friends

That magical realm is now threatened, and I nudge any earth-loving nature-loving person to please read Angie Drake’s story: Save Refugio de las Aves

How many people have experienced that same magic and would be delighted to help – but how can they help if they don’t know about this dilemma?

The GoFundMe page states: “… After seventeen years of dedicating our lives to these birds and allowing others to share in this experience, we now urgently need your help.
This past year, the beloved Matriarch of our family passed away leaving the property where we originated the business to her nine children. However, Angel and his brother Rodrigo are the only family members who want to preserve this land and its forests so it can continue to provide a refuge for these rare birds into the future…

The brothers Paz are witnessing the selfless aid from strangers as the donations arrive from various GPS points in the world.  This is how our world evolves for the better.

Hope.  Esperanza. 

and one more:

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