One of the great privileges of working for National Geographic has been the opportunity to go on a number of birding walks with Stuart Pimm, professor of conservation ecology at Duke University, North Carolina.
The recipient of numerous prizes, including the 2006 Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences, Pimm has published scores of scientific papers and written a number of books, including “The World According to Pimm: a Scientist Audits the Earth” (McGraw Hill, New York, 2001).
Pimm was also until recently a member of the National geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration, which is how I came to travel with him to different parts of the world. I will always have vivid memories of early morning bird walks with Stuart Pimm in Madagascar and Honduras–and now at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, where he led two bird walks during the bioblitz, a 24-hour species census that ended at midday today.
Accompanying Pimm on a bird walk involves a lot more than hearing about the birds in front of you. It’s a lecture about birdbehavior and habitat and the wider context of the local ecology.
At the end of the bird walk this morning–in which we heard much about not only the birds we encountered (mallards, red-wing blackbirds, swifts, swallows, terns, and more), but also got into a wider discussion about the sexual dimorphism of peacocks and other birds–I asked Pimm if he would share his tips about how to go about birding. Watch the video to hear what he said:
Video and photo by David Braun