One of the signs of someone's great interest in a subject is that that person has stories. These aren't just any stories, though; these are stories that rely on one's intimate knowledge of and experiences with a subject. The excitement that comes from the telling of the story - the sharing of the experience - almost matches the excitement of the thing itself. As an example: I do not have any real interest in quilts. The most I can muster in terms of a quilt "story" is that I own a quilt, and I sometimes sleep under it. Birds, on the other hand...I have all sorts of bird stories. Even as I'm writing this, there's a group of mallards swimming in the pond outside my window. It's pouring, and they don't seem to mind a bit (off their backs, as they say). A pair of Canada geese, their two babies only a few days old, is waddling around on the far side of the water. A sparrow was chirping away in a bush, but being less waterproof, has sought shelter elsewhere. Everywhere I look - at work, at home, out in the world - a story is taking wing. Fort Wayne, Indiana, is an All-American City; it's an All-Avian City now too, as the Indiana Audubon Society recently named us a Bird Town Indiana.
In order to qualify as a Bird Town Indiana, a community must meet at least 7 of 21 criteria established by the Indiana Audubon Society, found in these four categories:
- Creation and Protection of Natural Communities
- Participation in Programs Promoting Effective Community Natural Resource Management
- Limiting or Removing Hazards to Birds
- Public Education
How lucky we are - citizens and visitors alike - to have so many great city and county parks and other properties like Franke Park, Fox Island County Park, and Eagle Marsh to explore and to see a variety of native and migratory birds. To be able to visit the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, whose conservation efforts extend to birds (and other animals) all over the world. To peek in on peregrine falcons nesting high above the city. To experience the everyday joy of watching a mated pair of cardinals sharing sunflower seeds or being harassed by a wren when you have to mow around the tree in which it's nested.
It's such a good feeling to know that I live in a city that wholeheartedly shares its trees and its skies. If you'd like to learn more about the Bird Town Indiana project or the Indiana Audubon Society, please visit www.indianaaudubon.org.