Over 46 million Americans call themselves bird watchers, who enjoy observing the estimated nearly 20,000 species of birds around the world. This recreational pastime involves watching wild birds in their natural habitat. I want to put an emphasis on wild as birders are also conservationists and do not want to see birds in cages or their habitats interrupted.
Paul Lawrence Dunbar wrote a poem entitled, “Sympathy” which Maya Angelou used the line “I know why the caged bird sings” as the title of her autobiography. In the context of Dunbar’s poem, it is about a bird that is caged and continually throws itself against the bars of the cage in search of freedom, all the while singing as it struggles. While Maya Angelou, uses the line in the poem as a metaphor for her life of personal struggles (racism, abuse, oppression, and poverty), which are symbolic of a cage that wrapped itself around Maya. Dunbar’s poem “ Sympathy” is a beautiful work of art and you may read it in its entirety for yourself. Dunbar used his artistry to create a work of art inspired by true events.
Let us explore some of the organization’s twitchers (another name for a bird watcher) are actively involved in. The National Audubon Society is an organization anyone can join, which focuses on the protection of birds using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. Some of the on the ground conservation has led to protecting the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, the California Condor and Brown Pelican, adoption of innovative polices that balance habitat protection with green energy development on millions of acres and continuing to restore the Everglades and Long Island Sound. The Audubon Society offers ways you can help with their continued conservation efforts through membership, donation, purchasing products or adopting a bird.
The American Birding Association (ABA) represents the North American birding community and encourages birders through publication, conferences, workshops, tours, partnerships, and networks. According to their mission statement, ABA’s education programs promote birding skills, ornithological knowledge, and the development of a conservation ethic. The ABA encourages birders to apply their skills to help conserve birds and their habitats, and we represent the interests of birders in planning and legislative arenas. The American Birding Association offers trips for their members to enjoy birding all over the world. Check out their website for additional information and how to help with the conservation of bird populations, habitats, and more.
Bird Watcher’s Digest (BWD) in a magazine that has great content for bird watchers. You can find all types of help, such as identifying birds, general feeding rules for hummingbirds, what foods do specific birds like, how to make your yard a haven for birds, etc. BWD promotes travel to different locations for better birding. In addition, they hold festivals, expos, and watch parties. On their site you can locate a BWD Bird Club nearest to you and sign up for their newsletter. You can also check out their Redstart Birding Shop, which offers birding binoculars, spotting scopes, and other birding gear for sale.
Lastly, one of the conservationist organizations dear to my heart is the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) in South Africa, whose primary objective is to reverse the decline of seabird populations through the rescue, rehabilitation and release of ill, injured, abandoned and oiled seabirds. You may visit their website to help by volunteering, donating, and adopting a bird. You may also get additional information from one of my earlier blogs entitled, “ A Different View of Cape Town, South Africa.” While traveling think of ways you can help conserve the beautiful things you see while on vacation. For any of the birders out there, please share any stories of traveling to different places in search of viewing wild birds in their natural habitat. In addition, can you identify the birds in the featured image.
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