Can birding save the world? Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival keynote speaker Jeffrey Gordon thinks it can

By Naomi Klouda
Homer Tribune

The laundry list of complaints people tend to worry about would all go away if only they would take up birding.
They spend too much time in front of computer screens. They spend too much time indoors. People are not feeling connected to nature and communities.
“Birding is a perfect anecdote to all these things. Fishing or hunting or jogging, you can do the same things, but birding can do a few things that are really unique,” said Jeffrey Gordon, this year’s keynote speaker at the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival, which starts tomorrow.
What makes birding better is it’s shared. A hundred people could all look at the same bird and enjoy it equally, he said.
Birders are also a community built on trust. If a birder reports seeing a black bellied plover that day at Mud Bay, you can believe him.

HOMER TRIBUNE/Sam Kuzmin The White Fronted Geese, above, are en route to the Yukon. They winter on the West Coast, all the way down to the southern tip of Mexico. Jeffery Gordon is this year’s keynote speaker.

“Even in the most competitive, list-driven aspect. Even in that subculture, my word is worth something.”
More than that, birding taps into an essentially primordial connection. Since our cave-dwelling beginnings, people have watched the birds and tried to understand what is going on around them based on bird behavior.
These are some of Gordon’s thoughts on the topic of his address: Birding Together: How Birding Can Save Your Life and Maybe, Just Maybe, Save the World.
One of the issues that bothers or preoccupies the president of the American Birding Association is that birders as a community haven’t managed to convince others on the positive points of birding.
“Why is it that with as great a ‘product’ to sell as the redemptive power of a passionate curiosity about nature and belonging to a community of some of the most interesting, caring people anywhere, we’ve made so little traction with the wider public?” he asks. “Birding is a great way to get your feet back on the earth.”

Jeffrey Gordon

As the ABA president, Gordon attends bird festivals as much as he can, but this will be his first time visiting Kachemak Bay. He was in Alaska one time, 2001. He lives in Colorado Springs.
“I’ve been hearing from a bunch of my friends that Kachemak’s Shorebird Festival is a really cool event and it’s been on my wish list for a while,” he said.

Phillip Hoose
This year’s featured author is Phillip Hoose, a National Book Award winning author, musician and conservationist. Hoose is the widely acclaimed author of books, essays, stories, songs and articles, including his most recent book, “Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95.” He will read his book and present a video to Homer audiences, including at Homer High School on Saturday at 3 p.m.

Parents and children alike will recognize his titles: “The Race to Save the Lord God Bird,” “Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice,” “We Were There Too!: Young People in U.S. History,” and the Christopher Award-winning manual for youth activism, “It’s Our World, Too!”
The picture book, “Hey, Little Ant,” which began as a song by the same title, was co-authored with his daughter Hannah.
Hoose’s career has run a parallel course between working as a staff member at the Nature Conservancy since 1977 and writing on topics of interest to him. He is a founding member of the Children’s Music Network and member of the band, “Chipped Enamel.”
He lives in Portland, Maine, and has spent the past week touring and performing in Alaska.
“I think the unifying principal of my work was having daughters,” he said in an interview with the Homer Tribune. “I was writing for adults through the 1980s. I had been writing about Hoosers in basketball in Indiana, racism in sports. Books about sports for adults. Then I had daughters.”
His sensibilities changed. In one case, a girl told him there weren’t any people her age in the history books on the United States.
“I thought, ‘She is dead right.’ I began writing the We Were There, Too history books,” he said. A story on Columbus, for example, features a young main character on the ship, taking part in the voyage of discovery.
Moonbird should appeal to adults and kids alike. It tells the story about a Red Knot shorebird, the size of a robin, that has lived to be nearly 20 years old. Most die by the age of 5 or 6, so B95, as its called, is celebrated like a rock star. The story explores how it is the bird could live so long and complete such arduous flights? A tally of its frequent flying miles equals to a trip around the earth and back again.
“It was last seen as recently as last May. It has an orange band around its upper left leg that reads B-95,” Hoose explains. “In breeding season it turns a beautiful brick red, and other feathering is grays and blacks.”
Get ready to sing along with Hoose. His presentation is factual, visual and musical.
(See calendar of events page 14.)

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Posted by on May 8th, 2013 and filed under Headline News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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