A while back, I was in the field counting murre eggs and nests in windy conditions. The wind wasn’t a problem or anything new; we avoid issues by ducking low to the ground to reduce the impact of the wind and stabilize the scope we use. In those conditions, I usually worked with lab partners or alone monitoring and finishing the last few plots. There were often a small handful of people that would come by for a few minutes to get a glance of the view before the cold and wind became too “friendly” with them. On warmer days, people would stop to ask what I was doing and would carry on pleasant, enjoyable conversations. On chilly, windy days people rarely struck up conversations…except on this day.
I was sitting on the ground, using the scope at its lowest possible level to monitor the last nesting plot for the murres. I reached down to write down my observations and noticed that there was a little girl with her binoculars sitting right next to me. I said hello and she proceeded to ask me about the birds. To my surprise, she was well educated on murres and the other birds in the area, despite being no older than 8 or 9. She said that one of her top ten birds are the Steller’s Jays and proceeded to say that although she knows that they are mischievous and cause trouble with other birds nests, she couldn’t help her love for them. For the next several minutes, I let her look at the nests and birds through my scope as we talked about birds.
As it turns out, the little girl was visiting from the Midwest and had never seen the Pacific Ocean before. From here backpack, she pulled out a worn down notebook and bird book, where she used check marks to indicate which species she had seen so far, as well as the birds that she hoped to see in the future. It was honestly the most heartwarming experience I’ve had with someone so young. The genuine passion in her voice and words made it clear that birds meant the world to her. I told her that she could make a living working with birds (that’s what my friends and I are doing after all). From being a field biologist, to working in labs, to internships that take you to some of the most amazing places you never knew existed, there are many exciting opportunities for someone so passionate. Once she heard actual examples and names of what could be one day her future job, let’s just say, her response was priceless.
Eventually, the girl’s parents came to take her on to the next adventure they had scheduled for the day, but not before apologizing for their daughter if she talked my ears off. I just told them that it was just a level headed conversation between bird nerds.