My Dad taking a photo of me, 1965

My Dad taking a photo of me, 1965

Photo taken for The Nature Conservancy

Photo taken for The Nature Conservancy

Birding is one of life's simple pleasures

The most important road I’ve taken in finding my spiritual compass was when I got into birding as a kid and subsequently became connected with the environment. Birding is now my passion and one of my favorite things to do.

And, of course, birding has always played to my competitive side! It is so much fun (and challenging!) to travel and track down new species to add to my life list.

Unfortunately, there are aspects to birding which over the years have become difficult for me. There simply aren’t as many birds out there as there used to be when I was birding as a kid, and that can be tough to deal with. Populations of my favorites - warblers - and others are way down from their levels of only 40 to 50 years ago. It was well before Al Gore started raising the alarm about global warming that I could see the effects of climate change. When you are close to Nature, you can feel these things. Aldo Leopold wrote, back in the 1960’s: “One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds…Much of the damage inflicted on the land is quite invisible to the laymen.” I am certainly not a scientist, but I’ve had to live with this knowing with a lot of people over the years that I’ve played golf with and with whom I’ve interacted with.

I’ve decided to devote time, energy, and money toward helping bird conservation efforts.  I'm a former board member of the American Bird Conservancy, which does incredible work with a limited budget. One of the projects I’ve been involved in is developing and marketing a film that can be installed on home windows to prevent bird collisions. Based on 23 studies, it is estimated that between 400 million to one billion birds are killed annually by building collisions in the U.S., with roughly 44% at residences. ABC Bird Tape is now available at most Wild Birds Unlimited stores, as well as online.

In 2014, my family foundation contributed to ABC’s purchase of the Paton’s Birder Haven in southeast Arizona. I saw a couple lifers there, including Plain-capped Starthroat.