One of my favorite things about birds, other than the birds themselves, is the way they bring people together. Whether birding out in the field or setting up for a raptor program, birds open opportunities to meet people I would otherwise never speak to.
Aldo, Carson, and I did a program last weekend for the Sax Zim Bog Birding Festival in northern Minnesota. The weekend-long festival gathered 150 serious birders bent on finding boreal species that the Bog is known for. But it also connected birders and birds to local residents. Our raptor program was scheduled in the afternoon while birders were out on field trips, so the community center was packed with local families.
After the presentation, I had the opportunity to chat with some of the individuals in the audience. I met one gentleman that told me about growing up in Meadowlands, the quiet town just south of the Bog, and how he remembered it as a bustling community with frequent trains coming and going. A local artist proudly showed me his drawings of a kestrel and hawk. One young man remembered me from a program last year and asked detailed questions about owl adaptations while a 7-year-old boy (whose mother explained how much he enjoys nature) touched every wing, foot, and skull on my table. I hadn’t noticed these four people in the audience when I was focused on teaching, but it was exciting to later learn about them and hear their stories.