Friday, September 08, 2006

Ten Things I Did to Further My Interest in Birding

Taking a cue from John of A DC Birding Blog, here are 10 things that I’ve done to further my interest in birding over the past 50 years, in more or less chronological order:

Subscribed to Audubon magazine (when it was still all about birds) and Audubon Field Notes (now North American Birds).

Submitted seasonal field notes to the Jack-Pine Warbler (which was then a quarterly ornithological journal of the Michigan Audubon Society) and, later, Audubon Field Notes/American Birds.

Conducted a Winter-Bird Population Study that was published in Audubon Field Notes (as I recall, my high school biology teacher was not impressed, giving me a grade of D for the report that I submitted as a special project for a freshman biology class).

Joined the three major ornithological societies in North America and read their journals (Auk, Condor, Wilson Bulletin) from cover to cover.

Bought all the books on birds that I could afford and read them all, the most influential (besides the field guides) being the classic A guide to birdwatching by the late Joseph J. Hickey (pdf).

While on summer vacation with my parents, I convinced them to drive about a hundred miles out of their way so I could search (successfully!) for Kirtland’s Warbler in the vicinity of Grayling, Michigan.

Built a Purple Martin house from scratch, erected it in my backyard, and actually attracted Purple Martins.

Took several graduate-level university ornithology courses taught by the late George J. Wallace (pdf).

Obtained a degree in wildlife biology, which ultimately led to a lifelong career in the conservation and management of birds with the Federal government.

While stationed in the U.S. Navy, I made a special request to be transferred to a duty station in the Aleutian Islands rather than the Philippines (where I was due to be assigned), which I justified because of my interest in the birds of that region. The officer who reviewed my request must have thought I was a nutcase, because my request was honored and I was transferred to “The Birthplace of the Winds” and a crossroads of bird migration between Asia and North America.

And that’s just a sampling of the highlights!

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