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Video: Richard Crossley on Making Birding Bigger in America

Richard Crossley_3775Two of the many things that I love about working the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival: I always get to hang out and visit with a bunch of fun, interesting birders and there are great birding opportunities very close by, so it’s often possible to sneak in an hour or so of wildlife watching and photography before the exhibit hall opens.

One morning last week I was able to combine these. A bunch of us were out looking at a fabulous pool along the Black Point Wildlife Drive at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. While we were enjoying face-meltingly good views of large waders like Roseate Spoonbills and Reddish Egrets, interspersed with American Avocets, Northern Pintails, 2 types of Mergansers, and myriad others, I fell into a conversation with Richard Crossley, author of the much-lauded Crossley ID Guide – Eastern Birds.

We were discussing how to get birding in North America over the hump that if feels like it’s been stuck at for a couple of decades now. That is, how do we move from being able to bring hundreds of birders to an event like Space Coast to bringing thousands? Even more important, how do we mobilize enough birders that we become a truly effective, unified voice for birds, their habitats, and improved birding opportunities for all?

If you’ve met Richard, or heard him speak, you’ll know that he’s a man of strongly held convictions and creative ideas. He’s not shy about sharing them, either. Our conversation was rolling along with such a good head of steam that I popped my camera into video mode and asked Richard to tell us how he sees birding moving to the next level of popularity and impact.

Here’s what he had to say:

So, what do you think? Do you agree, or do you think other strategies are more important? Was there a club (formal or not) that encouraged and nurtured your interest? Or do you think that birding will (or even ought to) remain more of a niche pursuit on this continent? Does it need popularizing? How would you like to see that process proceed?

Thanks, Richard, for sharing your thoughts and for your support of the ABA. See you on down the road!