Written by Nancy Nabak, Communications Coordinator for Woodland Dunes
January is upon us and so are resolutions. Because we know too many of our bird species are in trouble, I’m resolving to do more for them this year than ever before. This is my personal choice, but I also share this challenge with you.
The National Audubon Society has just hosted its 122nd annual Christmas Bird Count. This tradition started in 1900, urging citizens to count instead of hunt birds on Christmas day. Prior to this conservation effort, it was popular in the 1800s for hunters to engage in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas “Side Hunt.” They would choose sides and go afield with their guns—whoever brought in the biggest pile of feathered quarry won.
Thank goodness times have changed and whole-systems thinking has taken a stronger foothold in our culture. By counting our bird species on Christmas day rather than shooting, we have learned much more about them, including migration behaviors, population trends, and rare sighting occurrences.
This year, let’s resolve to learn more about our birds. In fact, let’s get to know the bird that motivated us to start feeding them in the first place. Or the one that inspired us to take up photography. The one that convinced us to join a birding club, take a hike, or go on a field trip with other like-minded people. Let’s learn about the bird that brings us the most joy each spring when it returns. This is our spark bird. Then, let’s take another step and make a monetary contribution in its name to an organization that supports bird conservation activities.
I offer this challenge because we know climate change, agricultural chemical use, and habitat loss are all real threats. This behooves us to move the needle in favor birds. And we know if it’s good for the birds, it’s good for us.
Spark Bird Challenge:
Step 1: Identify your spark bird or bird of interest and write one, two, or three sentences about that bird and send it to me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Step 2: Donate a financial gift to an organization of your choice – committing to making a difference personally. Note, if only 100 people read this and each donated $20 to conservation efforts, we’d see a $2,000 value invested in the good of bird protection. Believe it or not, $2,000 goes a long way in the bird world. Please do what you can.
Step 3: We’ll publish the bird you choose to honor and your write up on Facebook and possibly in our next newsletter. Your donation amount will be kept confidential. Fun bonus: We’ll enter you in our Spark Bird Challenge drawing for a Woodland Dunes cap, T-shirt, or hiking stick.
Step 4: Feel good about knowing you actually did something to help move that needle. You do make a difference, and collectively, we have great impact. If you’d like to take it a step further, please contact your elected officials and share your concerns. We need their help, too.
Let’s start the new year off with resolve for our birds.
Photo: Blue-winged warbler at Woodland Dunes by Nancy Nabak