Birding for Hope

Cassidy - las vegas, New Mexico
Entered on April 28, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in birding. To some people that doesn’t mean much but to me it means everything. I am a 14-year-old birder and I have been birding since I was six. My parents are not birders but they support me in all my birding expeditions. I care about the environment too. I know that if bird’s habitats are not protected then birds will become ever more rare in the United States. I don’t want to go to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge and see it empty and silent; no calls of Snow Geese or the eerie song of the Sandhill Crane. I want birds to be protected from extinction; I want birds to be around 50 years from now.

Like I just said, I’ve been a birder since the age of six. When I was seven I joined a small bird club in western Massachusetts that went on trips every Saturday. I remember getting up at 5:30 with my mom and driving down to the Hitchcock Center where we’d jump in another birder’s car and go to a birding spot; sometimes nearby, sometimes 6 hours away! Those trips were where I learned most of my birding. Those classes did not teach me about environmental problems though. I learned about the environment and its problems myself when I was a few years older and I watched “The Life of Birds” by David Attenborough. The Life of Birds has about 10 parts to it and one of them is titled “The Insatiable Appetite”. That part is about how birds find their food in the wild but it also mentions how industrial farming kills birds. I could not take my eyes off the pictures of birds slowly dying in fields, due to pesticides.

Recently, I went on a yearlong trip with my family to explore the US and Mexico and for me, to challenge my birding skills. We went to Alaska, Yellowstone National Park, Mexico, and lots of other places. Aside from seeing 428 species of birds, I became more aware of how industrial farming hurts the environment and how it hurts birds. In Mexico I had a blast birding and exploring the country but I also wondered how the food I was buying there affected birds and their habitats. I wondered whether the food was grown with or without pesticides, or whether or not it came from a factory farm.

I believe that there is hope for birds and the environment. Organic farms are becoming more common in this country and I hope that they will outnumber industrial farms in the near future. I believe that I will be able to take my children outside and teach them to bird and they will see the exact same species as I did when I was 14. I believe in birding.