Butterfly Festival

Part of what drew me to this internship, beyond the bird research itself, was the opportunity to talk with visitors about the birds and our project – to tell them why we band, what questions we’re trying to answer, and how they can get involved. Unfortunately, Capulin is quite out-of-the-way. Most of our visitors are from Texas or Oklahoma, on their way to Colorado or further west. This, combined with the fact that we lack campsites, means that very few of our thousands of visitors ever end up seeing our early-morning banding sessions. Most visitors show up midday or in the afternoon, and even those who come early are mostly interested in getting to the top of the volcano. It’s a worthy view up there, but I miss getting the public excited about the same things that get ME excited. This morning we participated in part of a three-day bird and butterfly festival at Sugarite Canyon State Park. Even though it’s run by a state agency rather than a national one, it’s much larger. They also have multiple campsites, so when we set up our banding station at 7:45 a.m. we already had a small crowd gathering! We had a good, steady stream of birds (seven in 45 minutes) and just enough room for everyone to see the table. About forty people came to learn about the hummingbirds, which is far more than we ever get at a time when banding in Capulin. It was especially rewarding for me because of all the kids in attendance – none of which had reached the age of it being uncool to be excited and ask questions. They lined up to hand-release the hummingbirds once we were done processing them, and told us about kinds of hummingbirds they had seen on their feeders at home. I have always been interested in science education for kids, and there’s something truly special about being able to get a child up close and personal with a living, breathing piece of nature. If we’re lucky, it will trigger the same thing in them that it did in me when I was young, and in a few years we’ll have another young scientist on our hands!

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