The ABCs of my life: Associations Birds Child

July 5th, 2018

Year 2018 is the year of the bird, and to celebrate, I’ve written an article about how my love of birds has grown from my childhood connection to nature, to the connection I nurture with my child.

I love birds; their voices, feathers, personality and ubiquitousness. When I was a child, I would spend hours watching the bald eagles in the marshes near my house. Nature was my refuge, my quiet happy place where I can let my mind slow down. As an adult, I developed this love into a career path focused on conservation and science, and as a mother, birds have let me forge a close connection between my child and nature, primarily because birds are everywhere.

When my daughter, Aurora (named for the Aurora borealis) and I walk to preschool, we see birds, and the type of bird changes with the season. I gleefully point out species, telling her bits of information about whatever strikes my fancy. With the chickadees, I often greet them with “chick-a-dee-dee”, robins get a “robin redbreast” and ravens and crows get a respectful nod of the head. We continue our bird encounters throughout town as well as during weekend excursions to playgrounds, parks and beaches, and always, birds are there. We often stop and identify them together (with a birding app), or sometimes I try and memorize the distinguishing features so that I can later identify the bird at home. Aurora often takes glee in repeating what I say, or telling me features like “orange bum, orange head”, and now as she is older I am starting to ask her to describe a bird for me. It is pretty amusing. Sometimes she is insistent on identifying the species for me, and if she is wrong, it is simultaneously amusing and frustrating because I would try to correct her gently and tell her why, for instance, the House Sparrow is not a Junco. Sometimes, as pre-schoolers often do, she just wants to be right, but then as I scientist, I don’t want to be like “OK, honey, it’s whatever species you want it to be” (but, sometimes, I do say that).

Aurora knows that Mommy studies birds, sometimes she decides she will “study birds when I grow up”, and I always tell her that she can learn about anything she wants – for me, I am grateful that she harbours this connection with nature, and that she associates birds with the world around her. For that, I am grateful to birds, and one reason of many, why birds matter to me.

Miya & Aurora looking at Antillean crested hummingbird in Grenada

Aurora and her own binoculars