Our Pledge To Fledge Birding Enthusiasts
Part of our mission at Global Birding Initiative is to create a greater public awareness of birds and bird conservation, as well as inspiring people everywhere to participate in the hobby of birding.
It is our belief that an increased interest in birds and birding will help to grow public awareness of bird conservation issues, as well as nature conservation as a whole.
The reason for this is that the beauty of birds is highly effective at inspiring a connection with nature, and thus engenders a passion for protecting it.
In other words, we believe that an active, growing community of birders can help to save our planet for future generations.
The “Pledge to Fledge” is our commitment to share our enthusiasm and knowledge of birds with others, and thereby to help grow public appreciation of birds and conservation issues.
How to fledge a birder
Passing along the passion for birding is a lot easier than most people think.
It’s important to remember that if you’re passionate about birds then you’re probably somewhat of a birding authority in your local community, and you can use this expertise to help others learn more about birds.
A great way to do this is simply to share a special bird sighting with your neighbors or friends. For example, if you spot a rare migratory bird, this is something worth mentioning to them.
If any of them reply to this with interest (perhaps by asking additional questions about the bird or the significance of the sighting), that’s a great opportunity to invite them along to do some in-person birding in your local area.
Alternatively, you can invite them to a backyard barbecue where you introduce them to some of the local birds that are regulars there.
Neighborhood bird walks for beginners
We’ve found that a great way to get more people interested in birds and nature is to take them on their first bird walk, but it’s important to keep this as simple as possible, in order to make it more enjoyable for beginners.
Keep in mind that most people are only likely to have a casual interest in birding, and so you should not make it too challenging to spot the birds, nor should you overload them with too many details about the birds and their biology.
The main exception is when people ask a lot of questions, in which case you definitely shouldn’t hold back with your knowledge. In fact, when someone asks many questions, that’s a great sign you’ve got a “fledgling birder” on your hands.
Choose the right location for a beginner bird walk
When you take someone on their first bird walk, it’s important to make it as easy as possible for them to see the birds, and so you’ll want to find a location with a good number of large birds out in the open.
A great option for this would be a local pond with plentiful impressive water birds, such as ducks, geese, herons, or grebes. Ideally, choose a location where the birds are not shy, so you’ll be able to get close to them.
During winter, another great option is to do a tour of the local bird feeders in your area, as that also allows you to get close to many birds, and show them to your friends and family. Try to find the best feeders in your local neighborhood, and keep a few of these ready for a beginner bird walk.
If you’re close to the ocean, another option is to go for a hike along the seashore, and look at the local shorebirds in your area. But keep in mind that this may involve looking at birds at a greater distance, which usually requires a spotting scope.
Provide first-time birders with good binoculars
If you want to share the joys of birding with someone for the first time, it’s important to make sure they have a good pair of binoculars to see the birds. If not, this can put an end to their enthusiasm for birding before they even get started.
Also, make sure that they know how to use their binoculars correctly. It’s usually necessary to adjust for the difference between the left and right eye, and they might not be aware of this. So make sure to help them adjust this setting, and also show them how to focus the binoculars.
If you’ve got a good spotting scope, that can also be a great way to show beginners some spectacular bird sightings, as you can set it up and focus on the bird, and then let them take a look.
But in general, it’s important to let first-time birders use their own set of binoculars, as that will allow them to get their feet wet with spotting and identifying birds without having to wait for you to do that for them.
Take along a field guide
When you’re out with a first-time birder, it’s very helful to have a bird field guide along.
That way, when you identify a bird, you can look it up in the book right away, and they’ll instantly get more insight into the identification and biology of that bird species.
This is a great learning experience, as they can easily repeat the same exercise on their own, if it turns out that they are interested enough in birding to take it up as a hobby.
And if they are really excited about the bird sightings on your walk, you can also encourage them to keep records of the birds they see.
Nowadays, you can also use a mobile app (such as eBird or Merlin) instead of a field guide for bird identification, and this is often the preferred method for the younger generation.
How to get involved and share the pledge to fledge
You can help to fledge new birders at any time in your local neighborhood, and we’ve found that this is the best way to get involved with the “Pledge to Fledge”.
You just need to stay true to your passion for birds, and share it actively with others, and this is enough to inspire some of them to become birders in their own right.
However, if you have a blog about birds or birding, another option would be to embed a “Pledge to Fledge” banner on your site, and we’d be happy to provide you with that.
If this is something you’re interested in, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll send you the banner plus a PDF with additional ideas for introducing others to birding.