Friday, April 8, 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011
Posted by Bill of the Birds at 8:33 AM
Dear Fellow Bird Watchers:
Now that spring is here, or will be soon, I have a suggestion for how you can help to make the world a better place. Consider doing this: Volunteer your time to lead a bird walk for kids or new bird watchers. There's no better way to share the joy of being a bird watcher than to help another human open his or her eyes to the wonders of birds.
Remember how you felt the first time you "sparked" on birds? And remember all the help you got as a new bird watcher? Birding mentors, bird club friends, and helpful individuals are the people that welcome us into the community of bird watchers, encouraging our interest and enthusiasm, sharing their knowledge, and—perhaps most importantly—inviting us along to go birding. Without those invitations, our interest in birds might never have blossomed.
Every spring, Julie and I go to the local elementary school and take several of the classes outside to look at birds. The school is in a rural setting, so all we really have to do is step outside and pass out the binoculars or set up the spotting scopes. The birds do the rest.
Last Wednesday, we took the school's after-school Science Club out for an hour. The results were awesome! More than a dozen species seen well, just a few steps from the playground, including some species and observations worth noting: The American kestrel pair is again nesting in the barn on the west border of the school. Six black vultures added further confirmation of this species' ongoing range expansion into our part of Ohio. An eastern meadowlark sang all around us, going from tree to wire to fence, marking the boundaries of his territory. And two first-of-spring sightings seemed to be our reward just for being outside on April's first warm evening: barn swallow and osprey.
It was a grand experience and the kids thanked us over and over again. We even had a few parents join us! Who knows? Maybe we showed a spark bird to one or two youngsters. And that is the whole point. I feel like I am paying back the kind souls who encouraged my interest in birds way back in the mid-1970s. Wow! That's 40 years ago! I'd love to think that in 2051 one of these kids—now all grown up to adulthood—might be inviting a group of youngsters out for a bird walk, remembering all the fun we had and all the neat birds we saw and heard.
It's the BEST time of year to be outside with the birds, folks. Being a bird watcher is one of life's most renewable gifts. Consider paying it forward, won't you?
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