There's been a lot of discussion recently on WisBirdN, BirdChat, and other birding listservs about how many children are birdwatchers nowadays. Not everyone who participated in the conversation agreed, but the consensus was that the number was small and that the list of reasons for our sorry state was long: Young people are overscheduled, people wrote. They live in unnatural urban areas. Their parents fear for their safety outdoors. The kids play too many computer and video games. And birding just isn't cool.
Reading all of this, slumping in my office chair as I did, it was nice to be reminded about an article that appeared in Washingtonian magazine last fall. Its subject (no surprise) was a handful of politicians and (pleasant surprise) how they like to escape to the Washington area's beautiful and numerous natural areas when they need a little fresh air and some time away from the office.
One of them was Maryland congressman John Sarbanes, son of former US senator Paul Sarbanes and father of 14-year-old Nico, whose photography Ernie wrote about earlier this week. Guess what the congressman likes to do? He enjoys birdwatching.
And guess who it was that introduced him to our favorite pastime:
“Nico got us into it,” Sarbanes told Washingtonian, “after he took a weeklong birding camp sponsored by the Maryland State Department of Education. He’s the ringleader. All of our vacations revolve around birding, and Nico has a schedule set out for us for the next ten years.” --C.H.