I didn’t really know a lot about birds when I was young beyond what my dad taught me from our backyard feeders, but for whatever weird reason, I tried to memorize our old Audubon guide when I was little. I was never sure of my knowledge, though, and I’d guess at ID’s outdoors, silently from a car window or when out at a new place. I remember seeing a painted bunting on the cover of a magazine and thinking how amazing it would be to see that bird (which brought it full circle when my 1st field job ended up focusing on nest monitoring for that species). A formative experience that sticks out to me was when I was in middle school, and a good friend and I went to a camp to learn about the Chesapeake bay watershed. I finally saw several of the birds up close that I’d gawked at in our bird book, and also had the identifications confirmed by our counselors from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. I came home with a shiny heron-shaped pendant that I’d earned from my attention to the avi-fauna of the trip! My path from there wasn’t linear, though; I didn’t settle on biology as a field of study until late in my college career, though, which roughly coincides with when I started birding at the level I continue today.
When did you become interested in birds? Are you at all curious about our feathered friends right outside your window? What has been your experience interacting with birds and other wildlife? Please comment below!