Last year at this time, I decided to apply for the Doug Tarry Young Ornithologists’ Workshop at the Long Point Bird Observatory on Lake Erie in Ontario.

by Charlotte Wasylik

Last year at this time, I decided to apply for the Doug Tarry Young Ornithologists’ Workshop at the Long Point Bird Observatory on Lake Erie in Ontario. I’m writing this post now to encourage any young birders who might be interested in this or another similar wonderful, educational opportunity like a camp or conference, to start thinking and preparing soon, especially if you need to fill out applications, write essays, and get letters of reference, or if you need to prepare for a scholarship.

Image 2A Canada Warbler at Long Point

The Young Ornithologists’ Workshop is 10 days long and includes bird banding (including Ruby-throated Hummingbird, which was a remarkable experience), bird and butterfly censuses, field identification, preparing museum specimens, and even a “Big Day”. YOW is for young birders between the ages of 13-17 and there are usually six participants each summer (last year seven attended).

This sort of workshop has so many rewards. I had lots of fun meeting other young birders from across Canada. We all had a wonderful time and shared our greatest passion, birds, and a number of us have kept in touch by email, Facebook, and even snail mail. 

The workshop also gave many of us our first chance to band birds. We worked in pairs, taking turns in the role of the bander and the other as the scribe. Both jobs are important to learn. On our second day, we each got to band a hummingbird. And several days later, I banded my first passerine, a Swainson’s Thrush. All together, in the 10 days, I banded about 20 birds of about 10 different species. A good start!

ImageOne of the YOWs banding a Northern Flicker

I have never had so much fun at a camp or workshop before as I had at the YOW. It was very hard to leave Long Point because I made some great new friends, learned so much, and saw some incredibly beautiful places. I can’t wait to return to Long Point as an intern, volunteer, or just for a visit. I would especially like to be able to show my family Long Point. More in-depth posts on my YOW trip are herehere, and here.

I highly recommend registering for a birding camp, workshop, or conference. You learn so much, meet others with similar interests, and further your knowledge of birds!

Image 1At the Bird Studies Canada Headquarters in August during the Young Ornithologists’ Workshop (photo by Ana Maria Gonzalez)

Click here to see a round-up of the various summer opportunities for young birders.

About the author: Charlotte Wasylik is a 15-year-old birder who lives on a farm in Alberta, Canada. She has been birding since 2009 and is a member of the local naturalist society as well as leader of her 4H Outdoor Club's hiking project, where she tends to take other members on bird walks. You can find her at the Alberta Birds Facebook page and at her own blog, Prairie Birder.