Henry David Thoreau once said, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
I think in in one form or another all birders and for that matter all nature lovers hold words like those close to their hearts throughout their lives.
No matter what their standing in the community or socio-economic background, through joy and sadness, happiness and loss, those connected closely with nature choose to live purposely and intentionally in a way that enriches not only their own their lives but also the many others that are fortunate enough to join them on their treks along the meadow and woodland paths they hold so dear.
The mark they leave on the world may not be broadcast in lights , a trophy or an award, or warrant a plaque on the main street. Yet when the love and passion of birding is passed on to others it leaves a legacy that persists through many future generations to come.
As resolved as the avid birder is to getting out at sunrise, following the rarity or adding to our life list we all need to remember that passing on and sharing our love of the natural world and especially the birds will be the most important thing we can do to ensure that we and our wildlife have a secure future.
Sharing what we love most comes easy to birders. We are that special kind of group for which selfishness or self-centeredness has no place and holds no value. And at the same time we need to remind ourselves never to forget to give back whenever or wherever we can in whatever way our abilities and personal talents tell us we can.
Whether it is working with seniors or children, schools or churches, or maybe just helping a neighbor appreciate his backyard birds, our lasting legacy will be the people that remember the lifetime of joy they are now able to pass on because you once helped them find amazement in a chickadee or the majesty in a Bald Eagle.
Maybe it is because my aging eyes now find it difficult to find the warblers high up in the trees, my ears no longer hear the calls of the Cedar waxwings and my legs find it harder to take me to many of the places I once loved that I spend more and more of my days trying to pass on how wonderful our birds truly are.
It is my sincere hope that every birder can find their own special way to pass on their legacy of birding to others. In the end it will be the only way we have any hope of preserving and protecting the birds and the wild places we all have come to love.