It’s been about a month now since I started in DC for EFTA and ECC. I’m learning new things every day and meeting so many people who made their place in the world for the betterment of our natural places. But behind all of that, it is important for me to remember why I applied for this job: bird conservation.
Reflecting on the weeklong crash course on birds I received in San Diego, I can’t help but compare the diversity of wildlife at the San Diego refuge to the places we visited to Southeast DC and some of my weekend trips around the DC/Maryland area. Now, granted, I have not gone solely bird watching outside of work more than a handful of times, but I still take note of what is flying over my head or pecking at the ground 100 feet out in the marsh. Now begins the mystery!
In San Diego, I was having trouble wrapping my head around the different plovers, sandpipers, gulls and curlews as they appeared in almost every habitat we visited. To be quite honest, that week they all almost seemed the same…
Here on the East Coast, I’m having trouble seeing birds that I haven’t already taken note of (those being mostly American Robins and the casual pair of Mallards that seem to always be drifting by the ECC Pumphouse). What’s keeping away bird diversity in my part of the country, when the other interns are probably overjoyed with all the different species they’re seeing through their binoculars?
Perhaps it is the pollution that is found around the Anacostia River? We hold trash cleanups and the Osprey or cormorant don’t seem to mind too much, though they watch from afar on the dilapidated docks that will more than likely be torn down once those areas are developed. So maybe it’s all the construction around the city and the removal of all the dead ash trees since the Emerald Ash Borer outbreak? Habitat loss is a large topic when discussing bird conservation.
Just this weekend (to the joy of my parents) I cleaned up the front and back yard, mowing tall grass that helped cats stalk their prey and clearing away broken branches from the violent windstorms back in March. I also decided to wash and refill the bird feeders, because I was wondering why no birds were flying through my back yard.
In a couple hours, my backyard was filled with songbirds chirping away and Blue Jays chasing each other across the freshly mowed grass. Female and male Cardinals would sit high atop the pile of brush to keep their eyes fixed on the bird feeder. Just like humans, I guess, birds don’t show if there’s no free food! (Mystery… partly solved!)
It brought me so much joy to bring those birds back to my yard, and it is these reflections and experiences that help me create my curriculum for some of the kids that I teach. Working in the city, lots of the kids I teach also call the city their home. With this in mind, it is important for me to cater my lessons to teach them ways to help bird conservation, even though they don’t live in a forest or in the suburbs outside of the city but within a quickly developing metropolitan area.
Feature Image found via http://knowyourmeme.com/photos/116061-birds-with-arms