News Release Header
For Immediate Release:
January 03, 2014
Media Contact:
Cathy Guerra
ferrec@miamidade.gov
305-235-1668

Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces conservationist Rangel Diaz successfully completes his epic "Big Year" to chase 300 species of birds


(MIAMI, January 3, 2014) – Congratulations to Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces naturalist, Rangel Diaz, for completing his epic “Big Year.” Rangel was successful in his attempt to find 300 species of birds in Miami-Dade County in 2013. “I had a great time exploring new birding locations in Miami-Dade County and revisiting known hotspots” says Rangel. “I am particularly grateful for all the knowledge everyone has bestowed upon me and all the patience everyone showed me. It is definitely a highlight in my life and getting that 300th bird is a moment that I will never forget.”

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 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. He started bright and early on January 1st and went strong until December 31st, where each and every one of his days revolved 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 has now topped that local record. 

Check out Rangel’s blog, “EPIC Big Year 2013”, which features posts on his adventures and some great photos. The completed bird count is also 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. The Deering Estate at Cutler offers Bird Walks on the 2nd Saturday of the Month from 7:30 am to 10:30 am and are free with Estate admission. The next Bird Walk is on Saturday, January 11, 2014 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.

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 7 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 http://www.deeringestate.org/.