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For Immediate Release:
December 31, 2012
Media Contact:
Cathy Guerra

Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Follows Conservationist Rangel Diaz in His ''Big Year'' to Chase 300 Species of Birds

Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces naturalist, Rangel Diaz, will drive, boat, walk, stalk, chase, and sit in search of 300+ species of birds in Miami-Dade County in one year.  South Florida offers one of the most diverse birding locations east of the Mississippi and consequently makes Florida a national and international bird watching hotspot. With a list of 409 countable species, Miami-Dade County is one of the best birding locations in all of Florida.

"What is a big year?" A big year is an informal competition among birders to determine who can see or hear the largest number of species of birds within a single calendar year and within a specific geographical area. "It's a great way to study the migration patterns of birds while learning more about the parks and the environments they protect," says Rangel. Starting bright and early on January 1st and going strong until December 31st, each and every one of his days will revolve around South Florida's avifauna. The last Miami-Dade County Big Year is said to have occurred in 2008. Then, Roberto "Toe" Torres tracked 298 species. Rangel will try to top that local record.  Some of the species Rangel is most looking forward to spotting this January include: Western Spindalis, MacGillivray's Warbler, Smooth-billed Ani, Razorbill and Redheaded Woodpecker.

Follow Rangel's blog, "EPIC Big Year 2013", as he posts his adventures and up-to-date tallies on his efforts. The blog and updated information will also be available on the Deering Estate at Cutler's website. The Deering Estate at Cutler is part of the Biscayne Bay IBA - Important Bird Area - recognized as being a globally important habitat for the conservation of bird populations.

Interested in being a part of Rangel's "Big Year?" He will lead a Bird Walk at the Deering Estate at Cutler on Saturday, January 12th from 7:30 am to 10:30 am. The cost is $12 for adults and $7 for children (ages 4-14). Participants might come across a Thick-billed Vireo, a Mangrove Cuckoo or a White-crowned Pigeon - three of over 170 species that can be found on the Deering Estate at Cutler's 444-acre property. Bird Walks are offered on the 2nd Saturday of the Month from 7:30 am to 10:30 am and are free with Estate admission.

About Rangel Diaz
Rangel Diaz is a native Floridian with a passion for wildlife - especially birds. He was born and raised in South Florida and has been working for the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department as a Naturalist for the last 5 years.  He started his career with Miami-Dade Parks at A.D. "Doug" Barnes Park, assisting with environmental education programs, outreach, working with their collection of reptiles.  All it took was one adult male Hooded Warbler to spark his passion for bird watching.  Today, Rangel monitors Crandon Park's shorebird populations, specifically the Piping Plovers and Least Terns, while also developing ways to conserve the coastal environment they use. During fall migrations he volunteers at the South Florida Bird Observatory, removing birds from mist nets to be banded and tracked during their migration. He leads birding trips for Tropical Audubon Society, The Deering Estate at Cutler, and Eco-Adventures, is a frequent speaker on birding and advocates daily for the conservation of our winged friends.  Rangel is also helping with a community wide effort to establish several parks as Important Bird Areas while continuing to educate the public about the importance of conserving all of Florida's environments.

The Deering Estate at Cutler, a Miami-Dade County Park, is located at 16701 SW 72 Avenue in Miami. This 444-acre natural and archeological preserve and historic site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as a center for education, culture and recreation. Historic house tours are offered daily at 10:30 am & 3:00 pm and Natural Areas Tours are offered daily at 12:30 pm. For more information on the Deering Estate's educational and cultural programs, please visit