The Jacksonville, Florida, campus of the Bacardi Bottling Corporation recently welcomed a few new neighbors. In 2015, five baby Eastern Bluebirds hatched in the Mango Mansion, a nest box built and monitored by Bacardi employees as a contribution to the NestWatch project. The bluebirds chose to make their home near Bacardi following efforts organized by processing and training coordinator Sally Cannon, who also serves as the location’s Green Champion. In this role, Cannon is responsible for furthering Bacardi’s global commitment to building a sustainable future at the Jacksonville facility, which includes 22 acres of grass and wildflowers native to northern Florida.
In May 2014, Cannon and her team members built a bluebird trail on the sprawling grounds and set up multiple nest boxes to attract new indigenous bird families. The environmental conservation efforts of Bacardi employees in Jacksonville have also included planting milkweed, a crucial resource for the dwindling monarch butterfly population.
Due to its vast natural landscape and conservation efforts, the Bacardi Bottling Corporation in Jacksonville has earned distinction as a Wildlife Habitat Council “Wildlife at Work” habitat. The program recognizes and supports corporate initiatives that involve managers, employees, and the wider community in the creation, restoration, and conservation of wildlife habitats on corporate campuses. The Wildlife Habitat Council works to connect these corporate programs with larger restoration efforts at both the local and national levels. In doing so, it recognizes a wide range of conservation projects, from expansive habitat restorations to individual species management initiatives, such as those supported by NestWatch.
What is NestWatch?
A citizen science initiative of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, NestWatch is a wildlife monitoring program that draws on the participation of individuals across the United States to track reproductive trends among North American bird populations. NestWatch provides a wealth of online resources to help users become certified NestWatchers, including guides on identifying birds, building ideal nest boxes to attract specific bird species, and documenting nesting behaviors safely and accurately. While being careful not to disturb the nests or place their residents at risk, NestWatchers visit their nests every three to four days to record any developments and report them on the NestWatch website.
While NestWatch provides a unique opportunity for participants to learn about the surrounding wildlife and contribute to environmental conservation, it also fuels ornithological research. The contributions of thousands of NestWatchers across the U.S. make it possible for Cornell researchers to collect a large amount of detailed data about bird species throughout the country. By organizing this data to track nesting seasons, egg and hatchling counts, and hatchling survival rates, they can synthesize the information to gain a clear view of the current condition of bird populations, including the impact of factors such as urbanization, climate change, and non-native plants and animals.
Launching Workplace Conservation Projects with NestWatch
As evidenced by the Jacksonville, Florida, campus of the Bacardi Bottling Corporation, NestWatch is an excellent way for companies to increase their environmental awareness and engage employees in broader sustainability initiatives. Nest boxes and ongoing nest monitoring can liven up business campuses by attracting new wildlife, while also serving as a highly visible example of corporate environmental stewardship.
In addition to building and periodically checking their nest boxes, workplaces can install nest box cameras to provide more opportunities for observation. Other ways that companies can bolster their environmentalism include landscaping their grounds with native plants to create more suitable homes for regional animal populations. Additionally, implementing water-friendly features such as rain gardens, green roofs, and bioswales can both enrich the environment for surrounding wildlife and increase an organization’s overall sustainability.
Citizen science projects such as NestWatch offer numerous opportunities for organizations to collaborate for environmental conservation. While NestWatch.org helps participants embark upon and document their nest monitoring activities, YardMap, another project undertaken by the Cornell Lab, provides a database detailing the plant species that serve as the preferred food sources of specific bird populations. Users can harness the YardMap database to help build their habitats, then add their environment to a growing network of maps of backyards, parks, gardens, and other landscapes being optimized as bird habitats.
NestWatchers both at home and in the workplace can also take part in The Great Backyard Bird Count. Sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society, eBird, and Bird Studies Canada, the program has involved more than 100,000 citizen scientists from 135 countries in the real-time documentation of global bird populations.
Bacardi Continues to Work Toward a Sustainable Future
The conservation efforts of Sally Cannon and the entire Jacksonville campus are just one aspect of Bacardi’s international sustainability initiatives. Good Spirited: Building a Sustainable Future focuses on increasing sustainability in the areas of sourcing, packaging, and general operations, and carries on the family-owned company’s 150-year history of environmental consciousness. Since launching Good Spirited, Bacardi has strived to lessen the environmental impact of all its operations, implementing innovative and sustainable new practices at facilities ranging from Fijian sugarcane farms to Hampshire, England’s Laverstoke Mill.
Since launching the initiative in February 2014, Bacardi has reduced its packaging weight by more than 7 percent. Since 2006, it has cut energy consumption by 25 percent and achieved a 54 percent reduction in water usage. By 2022, the company intends to obtain all of its sugarcane from sustainable sources, decrease the weight of its packaging by 15 percent, and completely eliminate all landfill waste.