A significant event occurred in my life 55 years ago this week. On Nov. 9, 1965, when I was 6 years old, my parents took me to Tucson, Arizona, for my asthma. While my love of birds had already started in my birth state, Massachusetts, it was in the Sonoran Desert where my love of nature — especially wild birds — truly blossomed.
Several years later, my life was blessed by the influence of a kind, loving neighbor, Juliane Weigel. I did yard work for Juliane when I was a teenager, and we developed a relationship similar to a grandson/grandmother. When she discovered that I was keenly interested in birds, she helped foster that interest by taking me to Tucson Audubon Society (TAS) meetings and field trips.
Participating in TAS activities fanned the flame of birding within me. When I was 13 years old, I built a bird blind in my back yard and I began to photograph wild birds in their natural environment. I also began to record bird vocalizations, and I began to record my birding observations.
To this day, I still have my handwritten records of my early bird observations — the date, the location and what I saw. I recorded all of my observations in a little notebook as I spent time out in the field.
My personal experience of being mentored by others has created within me an appreciation for those who mentor young people by helping to instill within them a love for our natural world. I now have the opportunity to do for young people what Juliane did for me. I have been blessed through my business to help foster the love of birds in others — especially with young men and women who come into one of our store locations.
As the owner of a backyard wild bird store, I have the opportunity to be a facilitator in a sense. Over the years, many of our customers have donated books to our free lending library and, in turn, many of these books have been given to youth I have met in the store. There have also been many occasions when customers have donated binoculars, camera equipment and event-spotting scopes and tripods with the charge for me to find a deserving youth to give it to.
The concept of paying it forward is such a fulfilling experience. I was blessed as a youth by the many adults in my life that provided guidance and direction, and helped instill within me a passion for birds and nature. I now have this same opportunity, and it is one of the more meaningful parts of owning my business.
I don’t believe in “luck” or coincidences. I do believe our life experiences happen for a reason. Where we live, who we come into contact with and our interactions with others can shape our lives and theirs. However, this takes conscious effort; it takes action. I invite you to inspire the rising generation — your grandchildren, great-grandchildren or even children in your neighborhood — to discover the never-ending enrichment nature provides.
My life is continuously enriched as I spend time in nature, and I feel so grateful for nature’s influence in my life. I have the privilege and opportunity to help instill this love in others — to share not only my interest and my passion, but even tangible birding tools to help foster this love of nature and help others create their own connection to nature. If this is something you would like to be a part of, I invite you to reach out to me.
Until next week, Happy Birding!
Eric Moore is the owner of Jay’s Bird Barn, with two locations in northern Arizona — Prescott and Flagstaff. Eric has been an avid birder for more than 50 years. If you have questions about wild birds that you would like discussed in future articles, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.