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 44 of 59

43 May 2016 | Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community • Jump on a pre-existing birding event, and invite a new birder along. Christmas Bird Counts run from mid-December to early January. Project FeederWatch is a citizen science birdwatching and bird reporting event in in February. (Check out to learn more about both programs.) Pledge to to share interests is all it takes for a child to continue to pursue a hobby. Although I've been working on youth birding curricula as a part of my career, it's not necessary to reroute your career path to make an impact upon young birders. Here are a few sugges- tions on brooding and fedging them within your own community: • Offer a family bird walk in your neigh- borhood park. You don't have to be an expert on birds to do this. Make a simple fyer, and put an ad in the local paper. Be sure to stress that no experience is neces- sary. Expect people to arrive without bin- oculars. Bring extra to share, or enjoy the birds near feeders or focking in the open without binoculars. The behavior of Rock Pigeons and House Sparrows can be enter- taining! Stick to the basics, and be sure not to overwhelm them. visitors understand migration and identify birds. One October day, a 10-year-old boy climbed on up and was identifying accipi- ters about as distantly and quickly as I was. His name was Aidan Griffths, and he was visiting from Massachusetts with his father and his grandma, who are also birders. I was incredibly impressed with his skills, and we exchanged contact information. Aidan and I periodically exchange emails, and have birded together in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Texas. He is now a sophomore in high school, and I'm happy to report that I can't imagine he is going to put down his binoculars anytime soon. Aidan is one of few young birders who has a solid set of birding friends his own age. The ABA has been working to make Aidan's situation—a young birder with a plethora of young birder friends—a more common one. It has been aiding in net- working young birders with one another— and with older, more-experienced men- tors—through different initiatives. A high- light of the ABA's young birder program are week-long teen birding camps. Three years ago, I was fortunate enough to have the op- portunity to be one of the leaders for Camp Avocet, and what an inspiring experience it was! Watching the kids get to know one another, challenge one another with bird identifcation, and discover that they're not the only kids in the world with a passion for birds were all wonderful things to wit- ness. Humans are social creatures, and see- ing these teens discover that they weren't the only quirky ones with this "weird" hobby worked miracles on their birding skills. Many of them had never birded with someone their own age until this camp. I was thankful that these teens were given the chance to continue to pursue their pas- sions with the support of one another in the years to come. I fnd that middle school and high school students seem much more receptive to me than to family members who are also birders. We all remember being a teen: Oftentimes, no matter how much we might actually like something, if it is already our parents' inter- est, it might just be the most uncool thing on the planet. Sometimes just having some- one from outside of the family with whom n Three generations of birders: Dad, son, and grandma from Massachusetts all birding together in south Texas. Photo © Tiffany Kersten n Feeder watching can be a great initial hook for beginning birders. Broad-billed Hummingbird in Madera Canyon, Arizona. Photo © Tiffany Kersten

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