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Where could I get experience in working with birds?

I'm still a high school student, and I'm not exactly sure what I want to be yet, but if I were to work with birds in the future, where could I get the experience beforehand? Should I volunteer somewhere? I always had a passion for them. I love all birds, big and small.

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Raquel’s Answer

If you're keen on gaining practical experience with birds, consider exploring local animal rescue centers. Numerous centers offer volunteer opportunities. By communicating your interests to them, they could potentially provide the experience you're after!
Thank you comment icon Thank you for the advice! Isabella
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Nathaniel’s Answer

Do you have a sense yet of 'how' you want to work with birds? As a breeder and seller? As a trainer perhaps for cinema? As a veterinarian? As a scientist? As an artist? If you can close in on an answer here, it will lead you towards where you might volunteer, study and/or train.

I have been fortunate to work with birds in many venues in the course of my life. I began as a bird-watcher almost thirty years ago: I was on a boat going up Oregon's Rogue River and a Bald Eagle flew across in front of us, not 10-feet away. On my way home that evening, I bought my first binoculars.

I had been trained as an ecological anthropologist--someone who studies how human communities and their environments influence and change each other. I imagined it would be 'somehow 'simpler' to study the ecology and behavior of bird populations than of humans. Hah! Was I in for a surprise

I joined the Kalmiopsis Audubon Society (KAS) in coastal southern Oregon. I went to a meeting to see the advertised bird slides and came away as the group's Land Use Monitor, which I did for the next half dozen years. My role was to track land-use proposals in our county and to support, organize and agitate against the most destructive of them. In this position, I made contacts with many state and federal fish & wildlife and forestry representatives: I could say things in public they weren't allowed to; as they came to trust my judgement and reliability, they would provide me with data I needed to support and/or oppose developments, and this eventually led to my election as a local politician myself.

I stayed directly involved in birding as well, eventually become the bird observation reporter for KAS's Storm Petrel newsletter, starting to teach bird identification courses locally, participating in the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. National Audubon sponsors these counts every Dec-Jan--groups count every bird they can in a circle of approximately 10-mile radius. There are hundreds of these circles throughout the U.S. and the Americas, and they are great places to sharpen skills and meet other birders.

As I was developing these skills, I was coming to see myself more as a bird biologist than a bird-watcher. I found myself asking how and why questions, not just questions to aid in species identification. I read widely on my own in technical literature, and began taking courses in community colleges, in addition to auditing courses in the universities where I taught and researched anthropology and public health. In San Francisco while working at UCSF, I fell in with scientists doing bird studies for the Presidio Trust. I was able to participate in California Quail studies--we were trying to understand why populations were in decline in the City--and even to earn some money over one summer. I also volunteered for a Cornell University "Birds in Forested Lands," looking to understand how birds and campers could successfully share the landscape. I made several trips to the lava lands of the Modoc Plateau, along the California-Audubon state-line, to study how Lewis's Woodpeckers were adapting to human presence.

I had been fortunate to travel several times to Mexico and Belize to study birds in those countries, and in Belize even took a course in Tropical Bird Ecology sponsored by the American Birding Association. Traveling to those very different from N American habitats helped me understand larger questions about how birds use different habitats. For example, birds in reed-filled marshy habitats sound a lot alike, whether they be wrens in the Americas or warblers in the Old World, very distantly related families. Obviously something about the physical structure of the habitats selected for certain kinds of communications. This has eventually led me to an interest in a relatively new field called sensory ecology; namely, how organisms sensory systems are selected for by particular environments.

After San Francisco, I found work at the University of Edinburgh and living in Europe really facilitated my being able to understand the bigger issues of the evolution and ecology of birds. I birded throughout the U.K. on a regular basis, and on long holiday vacations was able to visit N Africa, Cuba, Spain, Poland, Greece. When I retired in 2011, I went to Belize for five years, living in a self-designed cabana on 10-foot supports above a seasonally flooded wetlands. I observed and studied 175 bird species from the deck of my own house. I compared two similar woodpecker species to try and understand why one was flourishing in human-inhabited areas while the other was not.

Finally back in the U.S., much poorer than I had been when fully employed and transport-limited--I let my driver's license lapse as I felt increasingly unsure about big city driving, I began to discover I had some talent for painting, something I had never suspected. But I knew birds well, and as I much preferred painting-illustrated bird guides to photo-illustrated ones, had spent thirty years studying bird painters without being conscious of it. Within a few years, I began to consider myself a talented watercolor bird artist and have sold a few pieces.

I hope this expands your thinking about how it is possible to work with birds.
Thank you comment icon To be honest, I never really thought about how I wanted to work with them. Maybe I’ll try out different things with them like you did and see where it takes me. Your story was great, I loved it. Very helpful, thank you very much! Isabella
Thank you comment icon You are very welcome Isabella. Life can take you many places if you remain open to it. In regard to being prepared to die, the16th century French philosopher Michel de Montaigne wrote: "We should always, as near as we can, be booted and spurred, and ready to go." How much better a philosophy for being prepared to live. Nathaniel Wander
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Jacob’s Answer

It's wonderful to hear about your passion for birds, and gaining hands-on experience is a great way to explore potential career paths. Here are some suggestions on how to get experience working with birds as a high school student:

1. **Volunteer at Local Wildlife Rescues or Sanctuaries**: Many wildlife rescues and sanctuaries welcome volunteers, even those who are still in high school. These organizations often care for injured or abandoned birds. Volunteering will provide you with valuable exposure to bird care and conservation efforts.

2. **Bird Rehabilitation Centers**: Look for bird rehabilitation centers in your area. These centers focus on the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of injured or orphaned birds. Volunteering at such places can be an excellent learning experience.

3. **Visit Aviaries or Bird Zoos**: Spend time at local aviaries, bird sanctuaries, or zoos with bird exhibits. While you may not be able to work directly with the birds, observing their behavior and talking to staff can offer insights into bird care and management.

4. **Join Birdwatching Groups**: Join local birdwatching clubs or groups. Birdwatching is a hobby that can deepen your understanding of different bird species and their habitats. It's a great way to connect with fellow bird enthusiasts.

5. **Participate in Citizen Science Projects**: Many organizations conduct citizen science projects related to birds. These projects allow you to contribute to bird research and conservation efforts while gaining valuable knowledge.

6. **Online Courses and Workshops**: Consider taking online courses or workshops related to ornithology (the study of birds). They can provide you with a strong foundational knowledge of birds and their behavior.

7. **Read and Educate Yourself**: Start building your knowledge by reading books, articles, and online resources about birds. Understanding their biology, behavior, and conservation needs will be valuable.

8. **Talk to Local Experts**: Reach out to local ornithologists or experts in the field. They may be willing to offer guidance, mentorship, or even opportunities to assist with research projects.

9. **Summer Camps and Nature Programs**: Look for summer camps or nature programs that focus on birds or wildlife. These immersive experiences can be both educational and enjoyable.

10. **Create a Bird-Friendly Environment**: At home, consider creating a bird-friendly environment by putting up bird feeders, birdhouses, and birdbaths. Observing and caring for backyard birds is a great way to start your journey.

Remember that your passion and enthusiasm for birds can be a strong motivator in gaining relevant experience. Start with volunteering or participating in activities that align with your interests, and over time, you'll build a foundation of knowledge and skills in working with birds. This hands-on experience will be valuable if you decide to pursue a career involving these fascinating creatures in the future.
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Jacob’s Answer

It's wonderful that you've provided such a comprehensive list of tips for learning a programming language like C#. These tips are incredibly valuable for anyone embarking on a coding journey. Learning programming can be both challenging and rewarding, and your advice covers essential aspects of the process. Here's a summary of the key takeaways from your tips:

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