Birder's Guide

MAY 2016

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 38 of 59

37 May 2016 | Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community unteers, exchanging their work for hook- ups or housing at a variety of refuges, na- tional parks, or other public lands. For example, Marilyn Kircus has spent the last few years hopscotching across America volunteering at various national wildlife ref- uges. She has volunteered at Okefenokee NWR in Georgia, Red Rock Lakes NWR and National Bison Range in Montana, Anahuac NWR in Texas, the Sacramento NWR Complex in California, Malheur NWR in Oregon, and Pea Island NWR and Alligator River NWR in North Carolina. A former science teacher from Texas who wanted to travel after she retired, she does not have an RV, so she lives in whatever housing the refuges provide, from small houses to bunk- houses to trailers. As a volunteer, she has performed a diverse array of assignments, including staffng visitor centers, installing nest boxes, planting trees, assisting FWS biologists, conducting wildlife surveys, and countless others. Ms. Kircus is particularly proud of her considerable efforts to replant trees at Anahuac NWR after Hurricane Ike's effects in 2008. Anahuac sustained signifcant damage, and it took years for the soil to suf - fciently recover from saltwater damage to even begin replanting. The replanted trees will provide important habitat for resident and migrating birds. An avid birder, she has conducted birding tours on several refuges. When a wayward Falcated Duck wintered at Colusa NWR, she even performed birder crowd control. She continues to volunteer on NWRs and recently passed 7,000 vol- unteer hours. She says, "I have never been in a happier time in my life, getting to develop intimate relationships with birds and other animals, making a difference in our world, and meeting wonderful new friends." She maintains a lively blog en - titled Adventures of a Vagabond Volunteer ( Of course, most volunteers contribute far less time and do so primarily at their local refuge. But it adds up. According to the FWS and the National Wildlife Refuge Association, more than 42,000 volunteers donate in excess of 1.5 million hours every year. This provides a 20 percent boost to the refuge system workforce—the equiva- lent of more than 750 full-time employees. What About the ABA? The ABA is a member of the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE), a nonproft entity consisting of more than twenty wildlife, sporting, conservation, and scientifc organizations. CARE believes that the funds allo - cated to operate and maintain the refuge system are inadequate and that this shortfall has adverse consequences on the system and its communities. CARE advocates for the system on behalf of its member organizations. The ABA has also encouraged its members to purchase Duck Stamps, one of the easiest and most effective conservation measures available to birders. n A National Elk Refuge volunteer leads a binocular lesson for a group of students in Wyoming. Photo © U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service n Marilyn Kircus has volunteered at refuges across the U.S., including Okefenokee NWR in Georgia. Photo © Marilyn Kircus

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