Young Birder Feature: Raymie

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Raymie and his sister at Parfrey’s Glen in Sauk County.

Age: 13
Hometown: Appleton

How long have you been birding, and what got you started?

As long as I can remember. While my family wasn’t really what you would consider birders, my Grandma watched birds at her feeders. She taught me the basic backyard
birds, and I went from there. I spent a good majority of the time at my Grandma’s house
looking through her copy of The Sibley Guide to Birds. I learned to recognize the birds I
hadn’t learned from my Grandma from the drawings in the book that I had memorized. I
started to draw birds in kindergarten. Eventually I started going to nature preserves to
look for birds. Now, I sometimes teach my Grandma a new bird (this spring I identified an Eastern Towhee for her.)

Why did you join the Wisconsin Young Birders Club?

I wanted to get together with people my age that like birding as much as I do.

What is one bird you want to see in the future?

I want to travel around the world and see all sorts of exotic birds and other wildlife. One bird that has always stuck out to me is the Iiwi. This bird is beautiful, and represents Hawaiian birdlife and the conservation that needs to take place on the island chain.

Iiwi
The Hawaiian Iiwi

Tell us something interesting/funny that happened to you while birdwatching.

I went down to Missouri to see the total solar eclipse. But the trip would have been worth it just for the Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds. When it was almost to totality, they would fly more like a woodpecker or a finch. That is, they would fly up a little ways, stop flapping and let themselves fall a little bit. They would then start flapping again and repeat the process. I have never seen a hummingbird fly that way before. (Check out eBird’s feature on eclipse birding here!)

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I don’t know. I definitely want to work with animals and nature. Ecology is an interesting subject. It would be cool to work in/own a zoo. Environmental education would be cool. I just somehow want to work with animals and nature.

Thanks, Raymie! 

December Young Birder of the Month: Oliver B.

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Age: 13  

Hometown: Carpentersville, IL (main) / New Lisbon, WI (cabin)

How long have you been birding, and what got you started?

I have been seriously birding for about two years but I have been interested in birds for much longer.

A flock of Ducks (probably Ring-necked or Bufflehead) at our cabin back in 2013 was the first time I tried hard to identify a bird.

Why did you choose to join the Wisconsin Young Birders Club?

I saw it on the ABA website and thought it would help me with birding near our cabin (New Lisbon, WI).

Where do you see yourself as a birdwatcher in 10 years?

I see myself traveling around the world trying to see the most birds possible and as a avian field technician for my job.

Tell us an interesting/funny birding story from your experience in Wisconsin or elsewhere.

We were going to walk our dog and as I am walking down our driveway, I spot a Warbler about 7 feet up in a tree about 15 feet away. I walked closer till I was only about 5 feet from the bird. I got my binoculars on it and realized that it was one of the most rare birds I had ever seen. It was a Kirtland’s Warbler! The bird stayed for almost a minute with me at that distance allowing me to study the it very well.

kirtlands-warbler
Kirtland’s Warbler

What advice would you give to a novice young birder?

Keep birding. Know that even the most experienced birders make mistakes and age is not a barrier.

Why is birding important to you?

Birding is important to me because

1 – I have made many friends through birding.

2 – It is the only hobby/activity that I have ever had that I can do anytime and anywhere.

And 3 – It gets me outdoors.

You can check out Oliver’s fledgling Illinois bird club, the Whimbrel Bird Club, here: https://whimbrelbirders.org/

Thank you Oliver! 

November Young Birder of the Month:   Elsa

Hometown: Madison, WI

In lieu of the traditional Q&A style of YBM articles, Elsa chose instead to write a short description of her time volunteering at the Open Door  Bird Sanctuary in Door County.

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“Interning at such a young age, I have found most people think is very surprising, and unheard of. If you ask me, almost anyone should try out such an amazing opportunity as this. I have been feeding owls, handling falcons, cleaning the water bowls for a turkey vulture, and much more! Interning opens up a whole new list of opportunities to both learn and have fun!

       On days when we are open to the public, I often get either stationed at the mews, or the education table. At the mews I get to give speeches about 4 out of 12 of the birds at the sanctuary. Here, I often see the visitors astounded, by both my knowledge of birds of prey, and the birds themselves. You would be surprised to find the number of people who haven’t heard of a great horned owl; explaining it to them and seeing them smile, is super fun. It is like suddenly I become the teacher! The education table is nice too. It is covered with tons of fascinating artifacts, that are irresistible and fun to touch. On all open days we also have a raptor show, often with this I help behind the scenes, tying falconers knots and lifting crates with birds in them. Someday I hope to be onstage, and handling the birds myself! After the show, on good days we have a guided trail hike. The trails around the sanctuary are some of the best kept trails I have ever seen. I always enjoy tagging along with the hikes, where we often see cedar waxwings, quail tracks, and eat apples right off the many trees which grow throughout the sanctuary.

       On volunteer work days, we come in ready to scrub down the mews and feed the birds. I do a lot of the water bowl and rock scrubbing for the first section, it isn’t the best job, but just being there makes it all worthwhile. By feeding time, this hard work all pays off. I get to slice up the quail for the Merlins, and I walk around placing frozen rats, (or rat-cicles as we like to call them) in almost every mew for the birds to enjoy. As you can probably tell, interning at Open Door Bird Sanctuary has been one of the best things I have ever done, and I would highly recommend an internship of any kind to almost anyone. It is a fantastic opportunity to learn even more about birds.”

-Elsa

Elsa is the perfect example of hope for the future of Wisconsin’s birds. While the WYBC loves members who show up to every event, it is so much more to see members like Elsa working outside of the club to help birds and give back to nature. Thanks Elsa!

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