Birder's Guide

MAY 2014

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 11 of 51

Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community | May 2014 10 Bill Stewart Wilmington, Delaware S ello, I'm Bill Stewart, and it is my honor to be the American Birding Association's frst-ever Director of Conservation and Community. I'd like to tell you a little bit about myself, but mainly, I'd like to tell you about some of the exciting things we have planned for this suite of vital programs, and how you can have fun and enrich your own bird- ing practice through giving back to birds, bird habitat, and the birding community. For me, working with young birders, helping with bird-monitoring efforts, raising funds for habitat purchase and improvement, promoting shade-grown coffee, and the Lights Out! campaign are all important, enjoyable parts of my birding practice. I equally like going out and enjoying migration, compet- ing in our local yard-list challenge, or chasing some newly reported hotline bird. They're all different, but each is something I love and want to spend time doing. Because I've gotten a reputation over the years as a birder who has taken part in or led a number of successful conser- vation and community-building efforts, I am frequently asked, "How can I make a difference for the birds I love?" My an- swer is always the same: Become aware, become concerned, take action, create results. It's a pretty simple formula, but one that I have found useful. As Conservation Chair of the Del- marva Ornithological Society, I decided a decade ago to put that formula into ac- tion. At the time, it was widely reported that the rufa subspecies of Red Knot was going to become extinct within 10 years. The awareness that we could lose this magnifcent bird raised my concern to a fever pitch. Because 90% of the world's rufa Red Knots use the shores of Delaware Bay as a migration stopover during May, I believed that I, along with all the birders of Delaware and beyond, had a special obligation to prevent this dismal prediction from becoming reality. I simply had to take action, and do what I could to inspire others to, as well. Habitat protection, as is so often the case, was of para- mount importance to the survival of these Red Knots. With lots of help from others, I created the Delaware Bird-A- Thon with the specifc goal of raising funds to acquire habi- tat along the Delaware Bay for spawning horseshoe crabs and migrating shorebirds. Once I took that action, I found that many other people and orga- nizations wanted to join this initiative. We've gotten help from such diverse partners as The Conservation Fund, the DuPont Company, the State of Delaware, and Dogfsh Head Brewery. David Sibley has endorsed and supported our efforts, as have birders from Delaware and around the world. All that action has indeed created results. To date, we've acquired more than 1,200 acres of prime migratory shorebird habitat in Delaware. That may not sound like a lot, but remem- ber that prime horseshoe crab/shorebird habitat is a fairly narrow band of the in- tertidal zone and salt marsh. A little in this case means an awful lot, something I've found to be true in all my efforts to advance the cause of birds and birding. It's been true with the Delaware Dunlins young birders club, with the Lights Out! Wilmington program, and with the Peregrine Falcon webcam I helped establish. I plan to bring this accessible, com- mon-sense, results-oriented approach to everything I do in my new position with the ABA. Whether it's continuing to expand and popularize our young birder programs—something I've been doing for the ABA for nearly three years now— or revitalizing the ABA's Songbird Coffee brand, or helping evolve the successful and beloved Birders' Exchange program that Betty Petersen pioneered and nur- tured, I aim to show that birders are aware, are concerned, and will take ac- tion. And I have every confdence those actions will yield results to make us all proud and spur us on to do even more. Finally, even though the ABA has a fne suite of Conservation and Community programs that we plan to continue, we're not resting on our laurels. Elsewhere in this issue, you'll see how you can con- tribute to habitat protection as a birder by purchasing a Duck Stamp through the ABA. We're also working with a number of partners to roll out other new initiatives that will allow birders to con- tribute under their own banner, some- thing that often hasn't been easy. I look forward to sharing more news with you in the coming months and years. I'm honored and humbled to be entrusted with this new position. If you have ideas or opportunities that you'd like to share with me, please drop me a line. I am thrilled to be working with you! H Bill Stewart, Director of Conservation & Community From the Director of Conservation & Community 1-From Bill.indd 10 5/22/14 7:05 PM

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