People ask me, “Why should I care about birds? Why should I study them?” My answer is as complex as divine references, as simple as the beauty and peace birds represent, and as practical as medicine for these hard economic times we live in.
Birding is a $25 billion dollar industry in North America: seeds, books, video, houses, calendars, magazines, paintings, poems, travel, scopes, binoculars, etc. – employing more than 60,000 people. A student of ornithology would have qualifications the average job seeker does not and a “leg-up” in these tough times finding employment.
– Wild Birds Unlimited, Audubon stores and hundreds of private wildlife stores across America survive on bird-related sales. If you are well versed on our feathered friends, you can sell seed, feeders, bird houses, field guides, binoculars, spotting scopes, and advise the novices you encounter in the city or suburb on how to attract birds to your yard.
– Feed and seed stores throughout rural America make their margin on sales of large quantities of black oil sunflower, striped sunflower, cracked corn and thistle. “Birders” can claim an expertise and hands on experience that most job applicants cannot. Feed and seed stores want someone who can sell products to customers. In addition to old traditional seed and feed stores, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and others look for employees to sell seed and feeders in their stores.
– Travel/Vacation companies offer guide trips to certain “wild” areas just to see birds. Wild bird magazine is full of ads for guide tours at premium prices. Bird lovers can garner support jobs, or guide positions, offer their own tours, or open wild bird stores of their own.
– A thriving magazine industry for birders hires service representatives to make cold calls to homes or to answer incoming calls from subscribers. Students of birds would not be confined to some rote computer script that pops up on their sales computers, but could personalize their approach and be an asset to their company and perhaps win promotions due to high sales. From Wild Bird magazine to L.L. Bean, birding accessories are big business.
– State governments now hire customer advocates, sales people in their department of natural resources call centers and at their stores in state parks. Seasonal work is available in some federal parks as well. Jobs that you could claim some expertise in include selling books on state birds, protected areas, specialized nature tags for motor vehicles, and so on.
– Lawn and garden stores sell many plants to people who want to reclaim the wildness of their new subdivision in plantings that will attract wildlife for shelter and food; plants for wild berries, nectar and vitamin C; and plants to support nests, boxes, sap, and insects for woodpeckers and birds that eat large quantities of pests such as the mosquito. The best salespeople are birders who have learned by trial and error what to plant.
– Many construction companies look for workers familiar with protected bird species and habitat, birds covered under the Endangered Species Act, etc. to avoid huge fines and work stoppages, as well as a consumer friendly worker who can deal with wildlife advocates to fashion win-win solutions that save a piece of critical habitat while saving the job.
– Duck hunting is a huge industry that needs people who know duck behavior, arrival/departure times, and species limits.
– I am also asked by men, “Do real men chase little birds around?” Yes, to love and know the creation is to love the Creator. It lays a foundation to begin a family unit through a shared appreciation of nature.
– Men will be able to teach love of God’s creatures to their wives and children; to establish backyard habitats; to take their families on wild outings and vacations.
– Men will be able to establish “bluebird trails” at elementary schools and teach classes to students through the schools and PTA. Environmentalism, science, geography and climate studies spring from this.
– Men can feel qualified to be an organizer for Earth Day, a “counter” with their families in National Audubon counts, and to work with biologists establishing osprey nesting platforms.
– Men could become a licensed Raptor rehabilitator with their families.
– Some men hone their reading skills by reading books on subjects that interest them and offer a second chance at being a father and husband.
As more people turn to basic values in a stressful economy, look for relatively cheap entertainment and recreation, and stay close to home, the backyard industry will grow as families turn back to nature and to escapism as they always do in tough economic times.
We have the most “Green” U.S. President in our history. They are looking for examples of good, innovative environment friendly corporations and government agencies that can support the “green” agenda, encourage less fossil fuel consumption, the planting of more trees for the atmosphere and soil conservation, and the slowing of global warming. Birds, the rise and fall of migratory species, are an important, early indicator of environmental problems, things that may kill us later.
The transcendent and hidden spiritual value of learning your place in the world cannot be exaggerated. Over 250 times in the Bible, birds are mentioned at critical times. When Jesus sat on the mount for the greatest sermon ever preached, He was at the center of the major migration route for hundreds of thousands of birds.
“His eye is on the sparrow.” “The birds neither reap nor sow nor store, but God provides for them. How much more will He do for you?” In the poem below, we see the allegorical lessons that birds teach us, the faith they inspire, and the humility and gentleness they nourish in men.
“The boughs hang bare when the winter winds blow,
But the little birds sing in spite of snow.
I like to believe that I, a man, can do as well as a
Little bird can.
But you have to have faith in the rightness of things,
To fling yourself out on feathers and wing,
And sing when there seems to be nothing there,
But icy winds and empty air.
Little bird, fly up to the top of the tree of my mind,
And since your Song to me.” – unknown