Birder's Guide

MAY 2015

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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28 Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community | May 2015 Opening the Door the streets of the London Borough of South- wark. This area is just south of the Thames River near Tower Bridge and is fairly down- trodden. The students were 18-year-old local kids who were sponsored by the architects to complete a course on the architecture, local history, and socioeconomics of the area. I met them early on a cold Sunday morning outside the iconic Tate Modern in Southwark. I was wearing my binoculars and a broad smile, but I could see from their faces that they were not impressed. They gave me the vibe that they dreaded spending the next couple hours watching birds with me. However, I greeted them all, and soon we were walking the streets spotting birds. To cut a long story short, I eventually had to tell them that I had to leave, as they didn't want it to end. They were hooked! Six months later, I was invited to a recep- tion put on by the students to thank the people who had helped them along the way. They individually told the assembled attend- ees about the highs and lows of their course. Every one of them agreed that the birding element was unexpectedly the most enjoy- able part of their study. Even the sole black guy in the group (whose tutor had previously told me he was the hardest to connect with) agreed. In fact, he went on to say that he had retained the names of the birds and was bus- ily impressing his friends with his new-found knowledge. Let's not kid ourselves: None of those guys will likely become birders. But they had seen the door. They had become aware of the wealth of nature that surrounds them. We should all open the door to as many people as possible. Many of those who know about the door will never open it to venture into the world of urban birds and other na- ture. But they will know about it. That is all we can ask for. The plane is preparing for takeoff, and I am buckled in my seat. I'm wondering if the good folk of Glasgow will be up for hear- ing about urban birding. Well, I can point people to the door. If they see it, my job will be done. Editor's notE: For more on the topics raised in this commentary, check out Birding's interview of Dudley Edmonson (tinyurl.com/ edmundson-interview) and Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv.

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