College students usually have the most time on their hands, they’re the most passionate and active, and they’re at the center place of social interaction and research. If we could kindle some sort of community or network, then people could make stuff happen.
— Ross, founder of ICON

THE INTERVIEW

 

Birding is...

 

Birding is what you make of it. You can just enjoy the feeder birds that come to your yard or you can enjoy morning walks at your local park or you could be a global big time birder. No matter what you put into it you’ll always get something really positive out of it. 

How did you get interested in birds? 

Senior year of high school we went to a small natural history museum in the Tetons. I couldn’t believe how many birds there were! From there, I started to realize the diversity [that] was in our own backyard. 

Did you have a spark bird? 

The Indigo Bunting. I went to a banding station, and someone came back with a bird in their hand and it was the brightest blue I’ve ever seen.

What advice would you share to other young birders? 

Don’t be worried about asking questions and showing that you don’t know something. A lot of birders get caught in the ‘I can’t be wrong’ mode- they can kind of get defensive. If you can nip that in the bud then you can enjoy the birds rather than the whole competitive social dynamic and not wanting to be wrong. 

Can you tell me about how you started ICON? *

After my Senior year of High School I went to University of Washington (UW) and I loved birds and wanted to start the UW Bird Club. So I did that, and it was the place where students could gather and go on campus walks and go to local parks.  I ran that for 2 years or so, then I was in touch with someone doing a documentary ‘Emptying the Skies’ and he asked me, “Is there a network for college-level birding?” I said no, and that inspired me to create a network; a social online gathering so when things like this came up you could have a higher conservation impact by already having a space.

*ICON stands for International Collegiate Ornithological Network. This is a place for college bird students to come together. Founded in December 2013, we hope to fill a much needed niche for college bird students to interact and share. We have monthly activities and an active Facebook page.


Ross and I have been friends since we began birding together when he was in High School and I was a college student. We've tried to get together and go birding together since, and have seen Ptarmigan on Mt. Rainier, warblers in Missouri, and loons in Washington. Today, we got caught up while birding around Gig Harbor, WA and saw warblers, scoters, and gulls. We try to take a photo together every time we hang out, and I'll see if I can dig into the archives and find some of the older ones and post them here later...