Birding as Families from Child’s Perspective, by Ivan Richardson

January 24th – January 26th, 2013
St. George, UT

Tom Richardson, Ivan’s father, reports:

“Four years ago, I was looking for something fun that I could do together with my five year old son. I heard about the St. George Winter Bird Festival. We signed up for one of the field trips. The field guide did such a great job helping us identify the birds we saw and pointing out interesting facts about them. My son Ivan became fascinated with this new world of birds. When he went to the library with his Mom he came home with a bag full of books on birds. He would spend hours studying them. Week after week to the library he continued to select books on birds to read. This fascination with birds was now beginning to become a passion. As parents we wanted to encourage his interest and we looked for resources to help us. The following year he joined the Red Cliffs Audubon Society in St. George, UT as their youngest member. He would attend many of their meetings and fieldtrips. Being surrounded by those who shared the same passion and had more knowledge and experience to share with Ivan kindled that fire even more. Last year we took an Ornithology course together at Dixie State College. He was real excited to be in the class with college students at the age of 8. I was curious at how he would respond to being in such an environment. He loved sitting in the front row answering the teachers questions. After one exam, the teacher announced that only one person had aced the entire test. Ivan had not only beaten his Dad, but the rest of the class. He was thrilled and it motivated him even more to learn more about birds and what he could do to help them. Last May, Ivan was invited to speak at the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival in Farmington, UT. The presentation went really well! I think the highlight of the weekend was when he got to meet the keynote speaker of the festival, Greg Miller, on whose experiences the film “The Big Year” was loosely based. They became friends on one of the fieldtrips together and Greg came and attended Ivan’s presentation later that day!

Ivan decided he wanted to do his own UTAH BIG YEAR in 2012 and finished with 213 different species. This year Ivan was invited to speak at the St. George Winter Bird Festival (Ivan is 9 yrs. old now). What a delight to contribute to the festival where it all started 4 yrs. ago. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology once again provided their assistance by providing their “Celebrate Urban Birds” educational packets for him to distribute at his presentation. The presentation went really well. Ivan hopes that by sharing his love for birds, he might be a good influence on others like the field guide was with him on that first field trip and open up a whole new world that many may not realize is right around them.”

We’re glad that Ivan was able to share his enthusiasm and expertise on birds! If you want to learn more about the St. George Bird Festival, you can visit their website; here is a video of Ivan’s presentation:

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