My name is Lucas Bobay, and I am excited to be joining The Eyrie’s wonderful team. I am a 17-year old birder from Holly Springs, North Carolina, a town outside Raleigh. North Carolina is a great state to live in, especially for a birder. It is the perfect combination of habitats – mountains, coast, and everywhere in between, leaving me busy for much of the year.
I have been birding for only two years. Okay, a year and a half. In that small window of time, my hobby has forced me to blow all of my money on a spotting scope and a super-telephoto lens. It has kept me doing from things that supposedly “matter,” like homework during spring migration (my teachers must be crazy – who assigns essays during the first week of May?) I find myself planning my free time entirely around birds – I even get up earlier on the weekends than during the week. But I wouldn’t trade my incredible experiences for anything. Birding has brought me insight into the primal forces of nature – migrations, seasons, and weather. I am still amazed that the tiny Acadian Flycatchers in my backyard were in Colombia just a few months ago. I have met all kinds of people and made lifelong friends, bound by our passion for nature. Birding is one of the most rewarding activities I have ever had the fortune to participate in.
As far back as I can remember I had an innate desire to see everything in nature. On a trip to Mount Rainier when I was eight, I fell in love with my first hobby – photography. I found an uncanny ability to depict the natural world through the lens. As I grew older my photography and camera equipment became more sophisticated, and I could capture the sweeping landscapes and incredible wildlife I observed from my own backyard to distant national parks. Photography is still an integral part of who I am as a naturalist, and is the perfect complement to birding.
In 2009, I attained a position I had dreamt of since elementary school – Junior Curator with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. My duties include caring for the museum’s extensive animal collection, presenting animals to the public, manning tables at museum events, and assisting curators with various projects. As a Junior Curator, I get the opportunity to participate in wildlife-oriented field trips. My interest in avifauna began on one such trip in December of 2011. The destination was Lake Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge, a world-class birding area just two and a half hours east of Raleigh. Prior to this trip, I had never considered myself a birder – Northern Cardinals and Carolina Wrens were the most exotic birds I knew. But Mattamuskeet changed all that. Lesser Yellowlegs, Snow Geese, Northern Pintail, Wilson’s Snipe, and Black Crowned Night-herons all sparked my interest in birds. I had been exposed to a whole new world of plumages, migrations, and rarities, and my life would never be the same.
Fast-forward to a frigid February day this year. While taking the SAT, I got distracted by the birds calling outside the open window. When the test was finally over, I hopped in the car, picked up my friends, and drove through a snowstorm to the Outer Banks. We were the only people insane enough to face bone-chilling wind on an abandoned beach, for fun – I had officially become a birder. It was a trip I will never forget – Avocets, Merlin, Snow Buntings, and an endless flock of Cormorants flying overhead were highlights. This made me realize not only how amazing birds are, but also how important birders are. We, the people obsessed with rarities, migrants, lifers, and lists, are the key to avian conservation. If birders can convey the same sense of wonder we have with nature to the rest of the world, the planet will be a better place. As I move into adulthood, I want to do my part to help preserve birds and the places they live – whether through writing, photography, or my future studies.