Young Birdwatchers Society.

Young Birdwatchers Society.

I quite like birds. 

Me on the left in the red jersey. Indoctrinated at a young age.

Growing up in Aotearoa, birds are integrated into our culture and psyche as a country. The national bird (obviously) is a Kiwi, the most popular alternative flag is a bird with lasers coming out of its eyes, we have multiple birds on our currency and we hold an election each year for the national Bird of the Year which spawns memes and debates every October. Due to the aforementioned reasons (liking birds primarily), here at Sons we started the Young Birdwatchers Society collection at roughly the same time as we started the brand itself. 

Toutouwai / NZ Robin. Where robins are regularly exposed to people, such as along public walking tracks, they become quite confiding, often approaching to within a metre of a person sitting quietly. Naïve juveniles will sometimes stand on a person’s boot.

When we first started the Young Birdwatchers Society (2015ish) it was in conjunction with an interest in birds, which in the past 7 years has allowed us to donate some of the profits from the merino we have made to the Kea Conservation Trust and the Dunedin Wildlife hospital (Shortly to the Yellow Eyed Penguin trust too). Through our involvement (however lightly) with these amazing charities we have found ourselves being drawn evermore into the world of birdwatching. Aka twitching. Aka birding. Aka watching and/or listening to birds and then writing their names down (optional).

What started as an interest has turned into a fully fledged fascination. 

If you're reading this article you probably have similar outdoor interests to me. Surfing, snowboarding/skiing, tramping, mountain biking etc. Do you realise just how close these hobbies get us to an absolute plethora of ornithological oddities in this country and abroad? By partaking in these activities we get unique opportunities to get closer to our feathered friends than many twitchers/the general public ever will.

Toroa / White-capped Albatross. Breeds on Disappointment Island. (relatable)

For example, being currently Auckland based I get to surf the mostly metropolitan beaches of Muriwai and Māori Bay. Though the waves can get veeery fun (punchy, hollow, warm) the crowds are often an absolute nightmare. The Gannet colony perched on the rocks between Muriwai and Māori Bay (one of only 3 on mainland NZ) provides entertainment for when the wave:surfer ratio is poor. Watching Tākapu/Australasian Gannets dive bombing baitballs meters from where you're sitting in the water or having them sail past you, wingtip to wave-face, riding the waves and the air currents better than you ever will is truly a humbling experience.

Tākapu/Australasian Gannet trying to find a landing spot.

Being active and outdoors in the back of beyond in NZ will get you closer to so many species of birds than you even realise. How many times have you been out tramping and been followed by Pīwakawaka/Fantails searching for those little insects that your lumbering form has stirred up on the way past. How many Toutouwai/Robins have come to say hello on your lunch break during a long session mountain biking in native bush. How many Weka’s have tried to steal food from your backpack left unattended for only a moment. How many Kea have ripped your vehicle trim to shreds while you frolic in the alpine areas of Te Waipounamu/South Island.

Pīwakawaka/Fantail. aka Grumpy boi

We have birds that can fly at over 100kmph (Karearea/NZ Falcon). Birds that outsmart children (Kea and Kaka). Birds that prefer their feet on the ground (Kiwi, Weka, Kakapo, Takahe). Birds that migrate across the planet on a yearly basis (Godwits, Arctic Terns, Red-necked Stints) and birds that can rotate their head through 270 degrees (Ruru/Morepork). 

In short, if you're out and about surfing, snowboarding, tramping or biking, you'd be mad not to be mad about birds.


Kea thinking hard about causing a ruckus.

I've recently downloaded an App called Merlin Bird ID (Appstore/Google play) which lets me identify a bird by its colour/size/shape/song/location and then log where and when I identified above bird thus helping researchers from Cornell University (and myself) better understand habitat, distribution and numbers of said bird. I'm also looking into which pair of binoculars would best compliment my growing telephoto lens collection to aid in the spotting and photographing of birds. 

In case you hadn't quite realised yet, I am in fact trying to convert you to a life of chasing not only waves, powder and trails but also of chasing our avian antagonists. 

Think about it. 

Birding fits so perfectly into the lifestyle of an outdoor activity enthusiast. Each new trail tramped/wave surfed/mountain range ridden brings new opportunities to spot the local birdlife.

Kea. Spotted Mountain biking somewhere southern.

With all this in mind and Bird of the Year 2022 edition coming in hot (voting starts Monday 17th of October). We here at Sons have decided to run a campaign not supporting any one candidate for bird of the year, but supporting all the candidates, and the spotting of said candidates.

We will also have 20% off our entire range of bird related merino (the Young Birdwatchers Society collection) for the duration of the bird of the year campaign (17th - 31st October) and will be donating our usual margin of all sales to the yellow eyed penguin trust. All you need to do is add the discount code "forthebirds" at the checkout.

So what are you waiting for? Score yourself some quality New Zealand Made Merino and a pair of bino's and get twitching. 

For the birds!

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