By Guest Blogger Brandon Kong
excellent opportunity to further develop my birding skills. I was immensely grateful for the generosity shown by the donors who contributed to the scholarship fund and made these workshops more accessible.
Everyone enjoys an enthusiastic teacher and Alvaro’s love for his subject is obvious. Far from a monotonous listing of differential features among the covered taxa, Alvaro’s beginning workshop was engaging and informative. He expertly layered insight to the biology of the birds he was talking about and expressed to us what makes them special. It is a pleasure to hear about the species in the local area from someone that knows them so well.
The beginner’s workshop was very useful for someone who isn’t very experienced with shorebirds like myself. At the same time, there seemed to be bountiful details provided that even a seasoned shore-birder could add to their bank of knowledge. You may know that Godwits participate in one of the most intense migrations on the planet but did you know you can tell the sex of a Black Oystercatcher by looking at their pupils? There’s always more to learn.
In the advanced shorebird ID workshop, Alvaro gave us a lesson on sonograms and bird song before taking a deeper dive into the different species an attentive shorebirder might encounter. We learned that getting to know the more common species could allow us to pick out the oddities. There’s no birding sixth sense required to recognize a Stilt Sandpiper mingling with a group of Dowitchers. Patience and practice are the key.
I take great joy in getting to know different groups of organisms more deeply. As I enter UC Santa Cruz’s Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program, I’m excited to apply the knowledge I have gained through this experience and to help others learn about these beautiful creatures as well. We have taken so much from shorebirds in terms of their habitat. If people can only get to know them, then maybe they will feel more compelled to protect them.
I would highly recommend participating in a workshop with Alvaro Jaramillo if you get the chance. You will surely walk away with new knowledge, appreciation, and inspiration in regard to the birds we share our world with.
Brandon is a junior in UC Santa Cruz's Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program and a new field technician for the Stanford Conservation Program. He is an avid naturalist and aspiring biologist in the making. Both avian reptiles and traditional reptiles are a passion of his and he is grateful to gain a knowledge of shorebirds through an SFBBO scholarship
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