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Swallow-tailed Kite image courtesy of Delos McCauley
Painted Bunting image courtesy of www.ejphoto.com
As birders, our desire to see these winged wonders is often unrivaled by other interests. However,
most people never even notice a chickadee bouncing through their backyard, Chimney Swifts circling
over their neighborhood, or a Killdeer stutter-stepping on an empty ball field. How do we bridge the
gap between our near-obsession and others' considerable unfamiliarity with birds?
The answer is with small, consistent steps and lots of patience.
Overview of the Fledging Birders Method
The Fledging Birders Method is an overlapping continuum of exposure to birding. It is specifically
designed to foster an individual from a total "non-birder" to becoming an informed citizen who
appreciates birds and the conservation issues which threaten them. Just like the parents of any
altricial bird, you will patiently tending to their birding needs, developing their skills, and bringing them
up to be bird-minded citizens in their own right. Essentially, you will be fledging new birders.
Step #1 - open a dialogue to pique curiosity - This can be as overt as bringing your brother on a
birding walk with you or as innocuous as putting up a bird calendar in your cubicle at work. The object
is to chip away at the wall and spark a conversation about birds. This can be done almost literally 24/7
at some level!
Step #2 - make birds meaningful and relevant - While many of us are interested in or maybe even
obsessed with birds, many people feel the same way about other hobbies or sports. With a bit of
creativity, we can make connections between THEIR interests and birds. With a good background in
birds and their behaviors, this activity becomes a lot fun for birders! More importantly, it puts birds into
a new, meaningful context which will help recruit potential new birders.
Step #3 - nurture their interest at a comfortable pace and level - As potential birders start
testing the waters, it's critical to maintain their interest and make birds really pop FOR THEM! To
be honest, a bit of sacrifice may be involved with this part. Instead of studying trying to ID a Long-billed
Dowitcher in a sea of Short-billed's, you may want to focus on the American Oystercatcher whose
comical appearance has tickled the interest of your prospective birding buddy. When a potential birder
has "had enough" in the field, be prepared to end the trip!
Step #4 - foster a sense of stewardship - Throughout the process, it is recommended to sprinkle in
conservation messages when appropriate. If something comes up about Bald Eagles, you could
mention how and why their populations have recovered so well. If they ask about those cute little birds
on the beach, share the Piping Plover saga with them. When they're ready,get your new birding buddy
involved by volunteering with a hands-on conservation project!
|Fledging Birders 101:
Fostering the Joy of Birds in Others
|© 2010 Fledging Birders Institute (FBI), all rights reserved. All materials presented herein are subject to U.S.
copyright protection by the FBI, and may not be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the FBI.
|Bringing the joy AND BENEFITS of birding to others - to promote their healthy development and bird conservation.