At the mic: Ryan Treves
Ryan is a 15-year-old sophomore from Madison, Wisconsin. He has enjoyed birdwatching from age six, and hopes someday to bird in Australia. Ryan is looking forward to Camp Chiricahua 2016 as another opportunity to meet young birders. In his free time, he enjoys playing soccer, reading and playing trumpet with Wisconsin’s youth orchestra.
As the child of a wildlife ecologist and a geographer, I grew up with a close connection to nature. My mother picked up birdwatching in college, but it didn’t go much beyond our backyard at that time. It wasn’t until she took a sabbatical (a work assignment abroad) in Uganda that I really opened my eyes to the incredible birdlife out there. As a 6-year-old, I wasn’t allowed much freedom to explore. Luckily, I was swept up in the massive bird field guides of East Africa and Ecuador, poring over them whenever possible. I was captivated by the notion that such amazing creatures like the Umbrellabird were actually out there, and it was just up to me to find them. Just like that, I fell in love with birdwatching.
What most captured my attention was birds’ brilliant variety in color, shape, and size. From the iridescent blue of the Woodland Kingfisher to the fiery orange of the male Blackburnian warbler, I have always been loved finding little flecks of color high in the trees. I hope this diversity will be visible for generations to come. While birds of the tropics can be flashy, my more touching experiences happen closer to home. The most memorable bird sighting that I’ve had in Wisconsin was definitely the Great Gray Owl that came to Middleton in 2014. I was lucky enough to observe it (alone) catch and kill two House Sparrows at once, and fly inches above me. The experience really embodied for me the independent spirit of nature and how beauty be so alive.
Birdwatching for me isn’t just counting species; it’s protecting the birds. Dozens and dozens of birders are working to preserve habitat, monitor populations, and conserve bird diversity in Wisconsin. We must ensure that there will always be people to do this. The youth of today with passion for nature and birds will be those who fight for the preservation in the future. Young bird lovers aren’t merely the birders of tomorrow, but the defenders of tomorrow.
I will be looking into collaboration between the WYBC and other organizations such as the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative and the Madison Audubon Society to help ensure a better future for both the birds and the birders.
My advice to kids and teens interested in getting into birdwatching:
Set goals! Whether it is to watch the backyard feeders for 10 minutes a day or to see more species this month than last, goals of any level help you make birding a part of daily life. Also, sharing your sightings can be crucial in providing a sense of progress and accomplishment: Be a part of the community! Join the WYBC (contact me at [email protected]!), the Wisconsin Birding Facebook page, and eBird. Seeing people see awesome birds around you is a great push to go out birding.
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