Teen Birder on Warblers, Travel and Blogging

  • Aidan Place birds all year long, in Pittsburgh, and around the world. Photo: Courtesy Aidan Place.

August 8, 2014

The Allegheny Front’s new Bird Files segment has had help from a 15-year-old birder, Pittsburgher Aidan Place. He’s been helping behind the scenes in our office while on summer break. Place is at bird camp in Arizona this week, but before he took off, we got the lowdown on his hobby—which he hopes to someday turn into an ornithology career.

The following are Place’s words about how he got started, why he likes birds, and anecdotes about his favorites. Of course, there are also photos from his birding excursions around the world. Want to test your bird identification skills? Check out Place's blog PA Birding: the life and times of a young birder, to see if you correctly named the birds below from Place's collection of photos.

“I remember always being very interested in birds in general and the birdlife around me. But I wasn’t focused on birds per se until maybe four years ago now, seeing a hooded warbler on my family’s farm in Greene County. It was really the moment that really got me hooked on birding. They’re a bright yellow warbler with a black hood on them. It was very close. It came down within six or seven feet sitting on a tree above me. And I was walking through the woods and it kind of caught me.”

“I’ve often thought that, about why I like birds more….(than) mammals or anything like that. Well, they are convenient to watch. In my experience, it’s easier to find large numbers of birds than it is to find large numbers of mammals or large numbers of snakes…. (Birds) are very beautiful, they’re aesthetically pleasing.”

“We went down to Florida one year for spring break. And I was really hoping to find a Mangrove Cuckoo. And supposedly, they’re very, very difficult to find before they start calling. So I figured my chances were pretty unlikely. But I was going to a few locations that have held them in the past. And I got very lucky. I was on a trail in Everglades National Park and I just happened to look up at the right moment and there was a Mangrove Cuckoo sitting in a tree above a trail. I’ve always considered that a highlight.”

All photos by Aidan Place.