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WildBird Editor's Note: Higher Profile

By Amy K. Hooper

Amy K. Hooper
Amy K. Hooper, WildBird Editor 

For a week in late April, I enjoyed seeing and hearing birds that don’t live in or visit California. The American Birding Association convention in Lafayette, La., gave me the chance to soak up species in places like Chicot State Park.

Three days of field trips provided glimpses and sounds of Orchard Orioles, Roseate Spoonbills, Baltimore Orioles, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Black-and-white Warblers, White Ibis, Eastern Kingbird and so many more. In fact, that list stems just from my first outing of the week.

The birds, however, are not the only impetus for my participation in the convention and in other birding events around the country. The birders play a major role in the decision to spend money and time away from home.

I really enjoy spending a weekend or week with birding friends and colleagues who live around the country. These events serve as reunions, opportunities to trade ideas and information, chances to reconnect and refresh our spirits.

On a broader scale, the events let birders connect with the communities in which we’re gathering and to show the economic value of birding. Lafayette, La., no doubt received an economic boost from the hundreds of birders who fly in, rented cars, ate meals in local restaurants and spent money in other ways.

We can show birding’s economic value at home, too. If I visit Huntington Central Park in Huntington Beach, Calif., I can make a point of saying to the staff at The Park Bench Café that I’m enjoying a drink and snack after a morning of birding.

What’s the point? I want residents to become more aware of birders, birds and the benefits of maintaining natural habitat. We birders need to raise our profile locally, and we can do that during our everyday errands. 

Who can you mention birds to today? The pharmacist? The hairstylist? The clerk at the mail center? The person bagging your groceries at the supermarket? The bank teller? The possibilities never end.

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