Young Birders Event 2024 Recap

By Team eBird 3 Jul 2024

Young Birder Sound Recording Workshop

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology hosted its 2024 Young Birders Event, bringing together a select group of 16 passionate high school bird enthusiasts for an enriching weekend of birding, learning, and connection. The event featured a range of activities designed to deepen the participants’ understanding of ornithology and related careers.

The Young Birders at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

The weekend began with a collection of presentations from scientists and community leaders at the Cornell Lab, showcasing the power and trajectory of data collection for research. A career panel highlighted the diverse range of skills that can complement birding and the development of future birding tools. Attendees were able to ask questions and better understand how their strengths could positively impact birds now, and in future careers. The Young Birders also each received a new pair of Terra ED 8×42 binoculars from ZEISS, and in the case of one attendee who is blind, a recorder and microphone, to aid in their birding journeys.

Young Birders recording bird vocalizations during the sound recording workshop.

The event also provided unique opportunities for hands-on learning. Early on Saturday the Young Birders joined Macaulay Library Archivists to record bird vocalizations using parabolic and shotgun microphones. That evening, attendees edited, uploaded, and annotated their sound recordings to help inform future models of Merlin Sound ID.

Listen to some of the Young Birder’s recordings, here.

Young Birders annotating their bird sound recordings

Participants had the chance to explore various birding hotspots, including Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge and Shindagin Hollow, where they observed diverse bird species and shared their sightings and experiences with fellow young birders. Highlights included awesome observations of Blackburnian Warblers, a Red-headed Woodpecker, and a Black-billed Cuckoo​.

Two Young Birders looking at Chestnut-sided Warblers

They also toured the Cornell Lab’s facilities, including the newly renovated visitors center, the Macaulay Library, and the Museum of Vertebrates, where they learned about ongoing research projects, played historic tapes from the archives, and saw and touched bird specimens under the guidance of Cornell experts​.

Young Birders learn about specimen prep with Irby Lovette, Director of the Fuller Evolutionary Biology Program

Upon reflecting on their time at the event, the Young Birders shared about their favorite experiences, including the nightly games of Bird Pictionary, which fostered a sense of community among the participants and featured drawings and reenactments of birds like Bobolinks, and Inaccessible Island Rails. This activity, along with other social interactions, helped young birders form lasting friendships and connections within their now global group of birding buddies​​.

Overall, the event provided participants a behind-the-scenes look into eBird and Merlin, an introduction to bird science and conservation, and a peak at the many career paths that align with and support birding. Young birders left the weekend inspired, with a broader view of how their passion for birds could translate into future careers in research, conservation, education, and technology​. In turn, their time here left many of us at the Macaulay Library, Merlin, and eBird team inspired by the talent, dedication, and unwavering passion that is continuing to blossom in birding.