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What’s your favourite bird? A cardinal? A chickadee? If you prefer your birds with a little more pluck, then you’re going to love this interview with ornithologist, David Bird. ★e has spent his whole career working with some really cool raptors. Want to follow in his footsteps? Keep reading! WILD: What exactly does an ornithologist do?
D.B.: Basically, an ornithologist studies birds, sometimes to just know about them and other times to find ways to help conserve them.
WILD: You’ve worked a lot with raptors over your career. What’s the best thing about working with these birds?
D.B.: Well, in my case, I liked the fact that I made friends all over the world by attending meetings about birds of prey. And I felt good doing research to help save them from extinction.
WILD: When did you first have an interest in raptors and what did you find so fascinating about them?
D.B.: I had a childhood interest in the sport of falconry. Plus, raptors are such cool birds! For instance, did you know that the Peregrine Falcon is the fastest diving bird in the whole world?
WILD: If you could debunk any myth about raptors, what would it be?
D.B.: Some folks think that any bird which eats meat is a raptor, but that is not true. There are plenty of non-raptor birds that eat mice, rabbits or birds — like herons, crows and Blue Jays.
WILD: What would you say is the biggest issue raptors face?
D.B.: Some birds of prey were almost wiped out because we were using too many chemical pesticides to keep insect populations in check. Luckily, Canada has come far where that’s concerned. But it’s still a problem today in many other countries.
WILD: I know a lot of people want to do something to help raptors at risk. Is there anything kids can do?
D.B.: There’s plenty that kids can do! You’ll make a big difference by thinking “green” and respecting our environment by asking your parents if the family can reduce, reuse and recycle.
WILD: If any of our WILD readers want to become ornithologists when they grow up, what advice would you have for them?
D.B.: The best way to become an ornithologist is to get good marks in school so that there are plenty of doors open to you, including colleges and universities. To be a professor like me, you’d want to stay in school for a while to earn a PhD degree. It is really worth it though!
In the meantime, why not take up birdwatching by joining a local birding club? You’ll learn a ton about birds and you’ll be able to see for yourself just how fascinating they are!
David conducting field research with a drone