Re: publicity/appeal to young birders (longish)

To: Andrew Stafford <>, Birding-aus <>
Subject: Re: publicity/appeal to young birders (longish)
From: Mark Kliene <>
Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2000 15:51:44 +1100
Hi Andrew,

I have been on this list for around two years, and i am also 29 - although just
about to turn 30.
I remember being fascinated by all things avian when i was about 7 or 8, but as
the juvenile years turned into adolescence things waned a little and i was
sidetracked by all the usual suspects:- girls,cars,smoking,drinking and being a
general nuisance-esspecially to my mother.
Actually to be honest i cannot fully recollect how i became seriously interested
in birds and the natural world for that matter.I suppose after my wife,infant
and i returned from a week in The Alice a few years ago i became more aware of
our wonderful surroundings here in oz, and i felt an overwhelming feeling creep
up on me of becoming part of the concerted bunch in retaining and caring /
sharing our native environs, and essentially wanting to learn and impart some
knowledge, knowledge which had fallen by the wayside over the years, to my young
I am still determined to do that, and also encourage others that may not be as
like minded in a slow but steady fashion.I think that by just a few simple
changes like turning of the idiot box more often ( and most other media for that
matter ) and going for a wander with family or reading material on natural Aust;
listening and learning together just making time in a world where their is
usually none to make - can make a substantial difference.And a hands on approach
of contribution to the birdworld does give new incentives to participate and
learn, esspecially i think,for people who are not intrinsicly involved in the
study of flora,fauna,ecology,biology etc.Hope this little spiel adds positively
to the discussion.


Mark Kliene.

Andrew Stafford wrote:

> Howdy,
> Lawrie Conole makes some very interesting points about the apparent decline
> in the ranks of young birders and naturalists. I don't have the answer to
> these problems, but perhaps what I can add will tie some of the points of
> this long and winding thread together.
> Those with long memories will recall that this discussion began with Edwin
> Vella's suggestion for a compilation album for birders, some weeks ago now,
> although the hum of dissatisfaction over the amount of publicity birds and
> birding gets is always bubbling away.
> This suggests two things. Firstly, birding has an image problem. We all know
> and have to deal with the stereotypes, old jokes, and so on. As a result in
> media circles birders are considered eccentric at best, slightly perverse at
> worst. Secondly, and as a consequence, we need to find ways to make birders
> and birding cool (God I hate that word).
> There is also the related but critical problem that in Australia, at least,
> there simply aren't very many birders to begin with. Indeed, birding in this
> country is largely a British import. Some of the suggestions that have been
> made for raising the profile of birding are sadly unrealistic, due to the
> tiny marketshare we occupy.
> (It's easy for people to jump up and down and shout in a chorus that
> something should be done without thinking the harsh realities of these
> things through. Take the idea of a compilation album: even if bands were to
> donate their songs for the cause of endangered species, you have to get a
> record company to invest a signficant amount of money into what would be, in
> the most optimistic forecast, a commercially marginal exercise.)
> I can understand why older birders think pop stars should be roped in to
> boost the image of birding in the eyes of the young. I'm 29, a music fanatic
> as well as a birder, and it's true that Peter Garrett had an absolutely
> pivotal impact upon me in my teenage years. Not only was he a great
> performer, he was extremely articulate and understood how to work the system
> to political advantage.
> But these are rare qualities, and it's not a slight on today's performers to
> say that Garrett remains one of a kind. I'm sure, though, if you were to ask
> the members of Killing Heidi, Regurgitator and many others if they'd be
> interested in contributing to a campaign for endangered species, they would
> probably be only too happy to oblige.
> But, you see, I was a birder before I was a music fan. And a casual
> appreciation of birds and wildlife, coupled with general environmental
> awareness, is far more easily communicated than the joys of birding per se.
> I have a couple of suggestions at this point.
> I agree with Hugo Phillips that building awareness takes time, but I also
> agree that Birds Australia could be more adventurous in their approach to
> PR. Sure, Bill Oddie was a great coup, but that was 10 years ago now, and
> while I've got fond memories of the Goodies, plenty of youngsters will never
> have heard of them and will care less.
> What can be done is a mixture of what is already available and what is
> possible. In terms of what is available, the decline of the twitchathon in
> Victoria to just a few serious teams is a tragedy. This is a highly
> marketable event, not least because it breaks down the image of birding as
> stuffy and unexciting; surely it can't be allowed to wither further.
> Years ago, there were teams galore, the prizes were serious and there was
> media coverage to boot. What happened? I have heard more than once that the
> event is pooh-poohed by others in the BA hierarchy as unscientific and
> therefore unworthy. I hope that's not the case and that the event can attain
> its former glories. (Having said that my team won in my absence this year!)
> In terms of what is possible, by all means keep the suggestions rolling in,
> but remember birding isn't very saleable on its own - at least, not in this
> country. I'm always struck, as a seabirder, at how confused people are when
> I tell them I'm going out to the continental shelf to look at birds, but
> when I tell them I also see whales and dolphins, their eyes light up. That's
> when I start talking about albatrosses! I've enticed a few people out in the
> field this way.
> And, while it is annoying that many environmentalists know diddly squat in
> real terms about ecology, at least they're showing an interest.
> Lastly. I'd be interested to hear from anyone on this chatline under the age
> of 30 as a kind of informal survey. All the names on birding-aus are just
> that to most of us - names - and it would be good to get some idea of this
> list's composition. I'd be interested to know what got you into birding,
> when you started, do you keep a list and so on.
> If anyone is interested in knowing how to attract younger members, it's
> likely we'll be the ones with the most clues, if anyone wants to ask. Please
> email me privately.
> Thanks
> AS
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