- Bird

Meet Sage, Pagosa Springs’ Rising Chook Mentor

Final week, I sat right down to interview 10-year-old Sage Merrill-Exton, a fourth grader at Pagosa Springs Elementary. Sage participated on this 12 months’s Christmas Chook Rely (CBC) final Saturday, December 17, marking her third 12 months of surveying birds for the oldest hen depend within the western hemisphere. Observe: some responses have been edited for brevity.

Inform me about your first Christmas Chook Rely. What did you see that day and what was it that made it a enjoyable expertise?

It was actually, actually chilly! In any other case, it was a transparent morning and simple to see. I went with my dad. We noticed a Hooded Merganser! Its hood (the male’s regal crest) was actually memorable. It was enjoyable seeing new birds and difficult myself to determine them. I noticed some European Starlings…they have been so purple! I actually like how colourful they’re. Additionally, I noticed the Trumpeter Swan on Lake Forest.

That’s nice! Oftentimes, our lakes have frozen over by then and our native swan heads to Navajo Reservoir or elsewhere for open water. So that you have been fortunate to see it on depend day! What else?

We counted LOTS of Pygmy Nuthatches at neighbor’s feeders.

Why do you retain doing CBCs?

As a result of each CBC I get to see a brand new type of hen. It’s enjoyable being concerned in it. I get to see connections in our ecosystem. Additionally, my neighbors now contact me for recommendation round birds. One neighbor contacted me and requested me to determine a hen on this calendar he made for the brand new 12 months. I advised him it appears like a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk.

Do you and your dad have traditions across the CBC?

We prefer to get out early whereas the birds are lively. We’ll normally take a look at the [Lake Forest] in a number of spots; there are normally a complete bunch of geese over there. Then, we prefer to drive up Martinez Canyon and thru our neighborhood, searching for different birds. After we get house, we prefer to heat up by the fireplace and drink sizzling cocoa. Then, we ship our checklist to my grandmother and inform her what we discovered and he or she tells us what she noticed too.

Do you suppose you’ve realized different issues about birds or science from doing the CBC?

Sure. Birds are a key animal group. It’s necessary to incorporate them in our world, and never ignore them. Additionally, they make me pay extra consideration in my neighborhood. It’s fascinating to consider what’s happening of their lives, not simply ours.

Do you prefer to go birding exterior of the CBC?

Yeah. I like going birding in nationwide parks. One time, for my eighth birthday, we went to the Monte Vista Nationwide Wildlife Refuge. We received to see cranes. Additionally, there have been hawks hovering over the fields. Seeing new species that aren’t in our space is enjoyable. I like to put in writing down all the things about them in my area journal. I’ve a Blue Jay feather in my guide from my grandma’s home. We received to see a (male) cardinal in Saguaro Nationwide Park. It was actually brilliant!

How did you get into birding?

It was largely my grandma and my dad. He was exterior so much for work and seeing fairly birds, like Western Tanagers. I assumed they have been cool and I at all times wished to get entangled in finding out one thing like birds. After I go to see my grandma, we at all times go to go to an enormous lake close to her. My favourite animals are turtles and so she at all times takes me to see the turtles there. And there’s an enormous island throughout the water stuffed with Double-crested Cormorant nests. There are tons of cool geese there too. Additionally, my grandpa began sending me these magazines with photos of birds to assist [me] get began. Then I received a bunch of hen books. COVID type of helped me to get into birds too as a result of I may very well be exterior a lot extra. My buddy and I’d get performed with our classes on the pc after which go exterior.

What do you suppose are some actions that individuals and Audubon can do to assist birds?

Making birdhouses, so there are extra locations birds can nest in. And cease leaving out trash. Birds are all over the place. There’s not anyplace the place there are zero birds.

What do you suppose can be a great way to get extra college students your age interested by birds?

I’ve been pondering of, perhaps once I become older, going into the elementary faculty as a mentor. I might go there and provides them a birding lesson as soon as each week. Sooner or later I might train them in regards to the components of a hen. After which one other day, I’d ask them to request a favourite hen, and we might examine that hen and discuss its area marks and stuff. Additionally, one other concept is making hen stickers. Typically I prefer to make earrings for bake gross sales. I assumed it may very well be cool to make hen stickers to promote as nicely.

Closing Ideas

Contemplating that birders are sometimes middle-aged and up, Sage is a good (and youthful) addition to our native Weminuche Audubon Society counts and actions. As an educator of birds, personally, it’s a second of honest satisfaction and pleasure to work with somebody so and invested in birds. With the intention to safe a wholesome future for birds, we have to foster an curiosity in them. That’s not at all times straightforward, as we’re susceptible to taking birds as a right. They transfer shortly! All it takes is sparking an curiosity round an preliminary outing. Deal with it like a scavenger hunt! The Christmas Chook Rely is an occasion that usually ignites that lifelong curiosity. When you and your loved ones are interested by getting concerned within the Christmas Chook Rely, click on right here to discover a depend close to you!

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