Conversation with a college student

I was sitting in the back of the conference room with my laptop plugged into the wall, when a young woman put her camera down next to me and sat down.   We exchanged smiles and idle conversation.  I asked her how she was enjoying BlogHer and she told me about her project.  When she asked me about my blog, I explained that I had 4; 2 for work and 2 personal ones–a life blog and a birdwatching blog.  Skipping over the other blogs (I think the whole pregnancy thing was freaking her out and being over 30, my life must be incredibly boring), she started asking me about birds.  I told her that I had been in San Diego before coming to San Francisco and that I got 3 life birds.  Not being a birder, I did not expect her to understand about life birds; but she had no idea that the birds in east were different from those in the west.  Floundering for an example that she could relate to, I finally hit upon the Cardinal.

‘You mean the red bird on the Christmas cards?”

“Yes.”

“That bird exists?”

“Yeeesss.  It is a common backyard bird.”

“I thought it was a made up bird.  Artistic license and everything.”

“No, it really looks like that and so does the Blue Jay.”

” We have Blue Jays and Chickadees.”

“You’re right, but yours are different that ours.  You have Chestnut-backed Chickadees and ours are Black-capped Chickadees.”  Noticing her blank stare, I move on to Blue Jays.  “and your jays are not the same as ours either.  We don’t have Steller Jays or Scrub Jays.”

“You don’t have Steller Jays?  They are everywheeeere.  You mean that Blue Jay on the cards is not made up either?”

“Nope.  It is real too. “

“I’ve got to tell my brother, he has always wanted to see the red bird.  We told him someone made it up. “

I assured her that the Cardinal was very real and fairly easy to see.

How do I get involved in these conversations?  That is twice in only a few days that young people have had no idea of the birdy world around them.  I am concerned for the next generation and what this may mean for conservation.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Conversation with a college student

  1. For a long time, I only knew the common birds – grackles, cardinals, blue jays, etc. It wasn’t until after college that I realized there were a lot more birds that I could see if I just looked a bit harder and went to the right places. I knew they existed, because I had seen photos or drawings in bird guides, but I guess I thought that only experts could see them or something like that.

  2. Another very interesting conversation! And a post.

  3. Scary. We birders need to get out and mingle more. “Nature Deficit Disorder” is a pervasive problem, both in children & adults.

  4. Stupidity is rampant. We are not all like that…

  5. I think you should KEEP getting into these conversations! That is one way that you can help educate others about birds and related conservation. Another way is your blog, which is great.

  6. Jackie

    Hey, slow down folks. I’m 64 and until 5 years ago when I took up birding, I’m not sure I knew much more than this girl. However, I loved the natural world and was concerned about conservation of all natural resources. There are lots of folks who support the Nature Conservancy and similar environmental groups that know only robins and sparrows and hawks(“those big birds in the sky”). They may not know a lot about birds but they know our planet is in trouble and want to do something about it.

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