I was glad to have my spotting scope along. I kept it set on midget and the kids dug the great bird looks. Photo by Liz Gordon.
During the recently completed Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival
, I gave a presentation my most recent book, The Young Birder's Guide
and discussed how we adults can help to get more kids into birds and nature. And that was fun and seemed to be well-received.
What was even better was getting to take two groups of local kids out birding in the park across the street from the festival headquarters. All told we took out about 35 youngsters and a dozen or so accompanying adults. The bird list was not exceptionally long, but we had big fun. Helping me herd the kids, spot birds, and impersonate sun-bathing Inca doves was Liz Gordon. Liz is a natural with kids, due in large measure to her own forever-young outlook on life. (Thanks again Liz of the Cosmos!
We gathered 'round the field guide after each new species was sighted. Photo by Liz Gordon.
was the festival's coordinator for kids activities and she graciously arranged for us to borrow 15 pairs of compact Brunton
binoculars from the Valley Nature Center
. These came in very handy (as did the binocs
loaned to us by our friends at Eagle Optics
)—each kid got to have his or her own pair to use on the field trip.
Small binoculars work best for small hands and close-set eyes. Photo by Liz Gordon.
After a few quick lessons on using the binocs
we crossed the street to Lon C. Hill Park seeking birds. The afternoon prior I had scouted around the auditorium and park to see if there were any stake-out species I could rely on. There were no birds in the afternoon heat. ¡Campo sin pajaros!
I felt better on Saturday morning when I showed up an hour before the first kids bird walk and found lots of bird activity. A pair of red-crowned parrots low in one of the park's trees were the best of the early birds. Alas they did not stay around for the kids to see.
Our total bird list was as follows:
- great-tailed grackle
- Brewer's blackbird
- golden-fronted woodpecker
- yellow-bellied sapsucker
- house sparrow
- rock pigeon
- Inca dove
- Eurasian collared dove
- European starling
- Couch's kingbird
- turkey vulture
- Lincoln's sparrow
- northern mockingbird
- laughing gull
- orange-crowned warbler
I gave away copies of the Young Birder's Guide
to a few very interested youngsters and sold a few others to their thoughtful and generous adults.
The thing I was most pleased about was that Liz and I opened the eyes of these three dozen or so young south Texans to the avian wonders of their part of the world. They knew about the local parrots and chachalacas
, but the mockingbird, golden-fronted woodpecker, Inca doves, and Couch's kingbird
had them saying "Awesome!" and "Cool!" and "Oh WOW!"
Watching two very active golden-fronted woodpeckers. Photo by Liz Gordon.
I have to say, I am pretty sure that's why I was put here on Earth—to show people (of all ages, but especially kids) awesome and cool birds!
The second field trip of the morning. That's me in the green shirt with the littlest birder. At far left: Liz Gordon, my co-leader.
Labels: birding in Texas, kids and birding, Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, The Young Birder's Guide