*Sarah is one of the new Student Blog Editors for The Eyrie.

Sarahpic2Sarah Toner

I’m Sarah Toner, and I’m a fourteen year-old birder from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Raptors got me started in birding when I was eight years old. At the time, I loved ducklings, baby rabbits, kittens, and all the cute fuzzy things that eight year-olds love, so when my local nature center caretaker mentioned that a hawk had eaten some ducklings at the pond, I was initially horrified that a predator was eating the baby ducks. My mom got me a kid’s guide to raptors, and I fell in love with them, eventually growing to love all birds. I ultimately decided that a local family of Cooper’s Hawks was probably eating the ducklings, but I now respect the hawks as my neighbors.

Once I got started with raptors, I couldn’t stop, and my passion for birds grew. When I was twelve, I traveled to Whitefish Point on Lake Superior and met the owl banders there. I knew at once that it was my dream job and I’m now devoted to becoming a bird bander and research biologist. Molt patterns and wing chord measurements fascinate me, so I know I’ll love banding.

I’ve been active with my local Audubon Society for four years, but I’ve only been active with the ABA for a year. I won the 10-13 year-old Writing Module in the 2010 Young Birder of the Year Contest and took 3rd place in the 10-13 year-old Illustration Module. I was also selected to be part of the 2011 Tropicbirds team in Texas, and I attended Camp Colorado last summer. In all of these experiences, I’ve met with other young birders like me and connected with friends across the country that share the same passion I do.

I hope The Eyrie can become a rallying point for all young birders to share their stories, art, and love of birds with other birders. It is all too easy for budding young birders to become swamped with other activities and forget about birds, so I hope The Eyrie can introduce and reintroduce more young birders to birding. I think The Eyrie has a bright future, and I’m glad I can help steer it on its way!