How did you get started birding?
My kindergarten class took a field trip to the local nature center. Until that point, I'd been your typical 5 year-old kid, and I was really interested in dinosaurs. But we went that entire program was on birds. I was really captivated...They were releasing a Dark-eyed Junco they had been rehabilitating. I got to be really close to it, and it really struck me as being cool.
I took my first trip to Arizona when I was in 2nd grade. I got a lot of the really common birds. It's been really fun. A lot of my birds haven't been found with technology. I've found a lot of them myself or with guides.
It's an experience. There's a whole lot of stuff that goes into birding. There's the birds themselves, the trips they take you on, and it's the people you meet while doing it. I like showing other people the birds as much as I like seeing them myself.
I first met Alex several days ago in Madera Canyon, watching the hummingbird feeders at Santa Rita Lodge. We were talking when the Plain-capped Starthroat (photo below) landed right in front of us on the feeder. Alex and his mom are on an Arizona birding trip, seeing a lot of great birds in a short amount of time- I can relate! Southeastern Arizona is small, and I knew we'd cross paths again. That time came at Beatty's Guest Ranch, in search of the Berylline Hummingbird. We weren't disappointed, and were treated to fantastic views of that bird as well. After the hummingbird departed I had a few minutes to visit with Alex, who is an enthusiastic young birder dedicated to becoming a better birder. His story and interest are as real as it gets. I could relate to Alex's experience of seeing a Dark-eyed Juno in the hand being released, as I've released many juncos brought to me by my cats over the years. I too had an interest in dinosaurs since I was young, and their modern-day relatives continue to lead us both afield in search of the identical evolutionary diversity of their extinct scaly ancestors.
It was a real pleasure meeting Alex and I hope our paths cross again later this year in the winter in Minnesota!
After the hummingbird excitement, we took a short hike and found the Gray Hawk nest being studied by researchers at the University of Arizona. Check out their research project here.