*Alexandria is one of the new Student Blog Editors for The Eyrie.
Howdy y’all, from deep in the heart of Texas! I’m Alexandria Simpson, an avid, fifteen-year-old birder from Santa Anna, Texas. I wish I could say I had been birding all my life, but my avian infatuation did not begin until I was eleven. I could not have asked for a better location to begin my now-favorite hobby: the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. My pastor invited me to go birding on South Padre Island with him and his granddaughter. More than four years have passed and I haven’t stopped. I enjoy every minute of birding and look for any opportunity to bird. I doubt I could ever thank him enough for that trip; it inspired me so much and helped me decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. Since I have been homeschooled all my life, I am able to incorporate studying birds into my curriculum. Since my family birds too, it is pretty easy to convince my mom to take us on a bird field trip
Becoming an ornithologist is my future goal. I read everything bird-related I can find: books, newsletters, magazines and even some scientific journals. Maybe someday I’ll be able to read those scientific papers without falling asleep. I listen to song/call CDs to develop my birding by ear skills. I am active in several conservation groups.
My birding passion led to improvement and development of other talents and interests: writing, photography, and drawing. I had done all of those things in the past, but never really progressed in skill. I also really disliked writing. After I began birding, I developed better observational skills which helped me immensely with drawing and writing. In fact, writing actually became one of my favorite things to do—at least when writing about nature.
When I was twelve, my first illustration was published, and I had an article published at thirteen. Some of my other accomplishments are placing second in writing and third in photography in the 2009 ABA Young Birder of the Year Contest, and second in photography and honorable mention in writing in the 2010 contest. In the Texas 4-H photography contest this year (2011), I placed at both the county and state levels in five events.
I hope to see The Eyrie’s readership broaden and include more young birders contributing essays, photographs, and illustrations. There aren’t many young birders out there, so it’s important that we band together. I want us to encourage and recruit more youth to this exciting, growing passion. While I enjoy reading about the experiences of others, and writing about my own, I also hope to see an increase of writings about deeper subjects like essays about specific species, birding by ear, conservation and other topics like these. I would also like to spotlight different young birder clubs, camps, and other activities for young birders, as well as get some young birders from other countries to give their unique perspective.