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The survival of Hummingbirds in cities is intended to be protected by the actions of a project of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. The idea is to create gardens in different spaces.
Objective, recover the hummingbird and its pollination
A small garden emerges in the middle of a concrete jungle in Iztapalapa, south of Mexico City. Between roads and asphalt, a lonely tree welcomes the Institute of Higher Secondary Education of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). There, the smallest bird on the planet appears, flapping its wings 200 times per second. It hovers in the air, flies backwards like no other and plunges its long beak into a red myrtle [a berry bush] to extract the nectar that is becoming increasingly difficult for it in the city every day.
Blanca Prado is a professor of Biology at that center. As the task of sensitizing students to environmental issues in one of the most wildly urbanized areas of the city was difficult for him, he decided to create a garden with flowers to attract hummingbirds. A small space with a drinking fountain and a few planters in which myrtles, lavenders and earrings grow.
“Talking about the problems of a species does not make students aware of them. But when they are close to the hummingbird and it shines with all its colors, it catches them and there is no other: they take care of them, ”says Prado from his particular oasis. Since it started in 2016, other teachers have been encouraged to take their classes out of the classroom and now drawing and “hummingbird-therapy” are also taught there, an initiative aimed at students with depression.
The garden is part of a project of the doctor in Ecology María del Coro Arizmendi to allow the survival of these birds in the Mexican capital. "In Mexico City we already take all the resource from pollinators, but if we manage to have a little resource, they will stay," says Arizmendi. So far he has already created a dozen gardens and has managed to get more than a hundred people to make their own shelters through a website where he explains which flowers they prefer and how to make nectar for the drinking troughs.
The idea came about five years ago in Washington, when he was at a meeting of the North American Initiative to Protect Pollinators (NAPPC). A colleague told him about the garden that then-US First Lady Michelle Obama had created in the White House to conserve bees, hummingbirds and other pollinators.
“They told me: 'Why don't you promote the same thing in Mexico? You have Los Pinos [former presidential house] ’. I laughed and told them that they were going to call me crazy, but I decided to start by proposing it at UNAM ”. He planted about 25 bushes in one corner of the University and it was a success. "The hummingbirds began to arrive, other faculties were interested and the idea began to grow." His goal now is to create a garden corridor that also provides food for migratory species that cross Mexico City on their way south.
The hummingbird lives exclusively on the American continent. Only in Mexico can be found 58 species that help pollinate more than 1,300 wild species, such as pineapple, beans or different varieties of banana. "Killing pollinators is going to kill us," he says. And, to avoid this, Arizmendi has a simple solution: plant flowers.