Birding with Dr Meredith Williams
Berta. Volt from more than one. Hundred and fifty million years ago and then explosively diversified culminating in more than ten thousand species distributed worldwide. Today are human. Relationship to beds is complex to seen as spirit messengers of the gods and at the same time. We took the wild red jungle fowl. From india and selectively bred into domesticated chickens the now farmed in cages feathers have been used for thousands of years and indigenous headpieces and at the same time but has like parrots and parakeets a kept as pets bird poop called guana was used as the first fertilize of modern agriculture. And charles darwin study of galapagos finches was to the formulation of evolution. Buds are all around us. We are closer to bed than any other wild animals birds. I literally and figuratively are canaries in the coal mine. Their wellbeing is our wellbeing threats to buds range from habitat loss including logging climate change industrial farming with pesticides invasive species and even cats. These will had a devastating impact on the bird populations of the us and canada. Which in just the last fifty years have declined by. Three billion birds danton insane. Thirty percent of all birds gone. Three billion pez of wings have vanished ever across our continent from sea to shining sea. Luckily birds have strong allies in their corner. There an estimated sixty million active bird watches in the us alone and with the pandemic shutting down so much of our country. We have flocking to bird watching like never before everything from bird feeders. To binoculars have been in short supply and this year the birding app e bird collected more sightings in a single day the was admitted during the first two and a half years of the apps existence. I must admit coming late to the bird-watching pardee. But thanks to dr meredith williams. That's about to change. I'm lucky enough to work with meredith every day in her role. Running one of the most important and complex agencies in california governor. The department of toxic substance control. Dr williams received two undergraduate degree from yale and a doctorate in physics from north carolina. State university meredith then worked and silicon valley fortune. Five hundred companies in the technology consumer product and chemical sectors meredith left the private sector to follow her passion for wetlands and birds and led the san francisco estuary institute as we'll hear. Meredith journey is about so much more than her resume. Meredith nine meet apt get ready for my maiden watching invention merit so we're about to go hopefully bed watching what. What do we need to bring with us while like what. What's what's in the bird watching backpack almost nothing. Which is great binoculars. Of course are your starting point. So i hope you have some inaugurals. I know you were looking for some recently. You gave me some good advice. But i get any but we all kind of professional but what just like you would have an extra pair. Do thought so. It's in the office but we could stop on the way out of town. Not of that sound. No we should. We should yeah. You just kind of out now. Okay okay so you got the binoculars. How do you if you're starting out. It's surprising how good have gotten very affordable these days so i mean it's still a lot to invest but ask a bird watcher. They might have an extra pair. That's the first place you might wanna try like them. What do you well. first of. All there are lots of different kinds of birdwatchers in terms of some people. Want to count every burden get really long list. And they track every single birthday they see. It's about the numbers of the that very unique bird and they chase vagrant birds that fly in unusually and they're rushing off to see that bird so there those kind of bird watchers I'm a bird watcher. Just watch one bird for a long time. I liked bird behavior. just i'm just fascinated by them. And i think they're beautiful so i could just end up watching one bird for for quite a while you can just take it. In at whatever level you want in terms of the variety birds that you could see and how you would just experience them and enjoy them. So and i think the only way to find that out is to bert. Watch a little and see what grabs you What you do sounds really peaceful. The first thing that sounds the first thing sounds more. Like in england as a whole breed of people go train spotters and i always kind of identified them with bird watchers. Like it's really about. How many things. You've you've been able to capture and less about the bird the thing that you'll doing just sounds like being a peaceful will watching another animal even the people who are energized. That way unless they're doing a big day which would be a day when they map it out to see as many birds as they can. In a single day they're not necessarily rushing around even they are going to have moments of really enjoying a bird and even somebody like me chased around golden gate park looking for a rare warbler. That's very rarely in san francisco. There's an amiability amongst birdwatchers is really camaraderie. People are so nice. There's always somebody better in terms of being a better bird watcher. Meaning they either can identify birds better or you know they just have a lot of experience for the a little bit about. The ecology and people are so happy to share their information. That it's really wonderful. That's one of the things i like about it. And it tends to be every now and then you get into group and there'll be somebody who's a little loud but by and large the the folks are really kind of it's easy to get in a groove with with birdwatchers and settled and gopher along stroll and see some great birds. But what's there everywhere that it's a it's a big i mean like it huge movement and it's growing apparently it's one of the fastest growing outdoor activities. There is it's it is just kind of crazy places where i been going for ten years and cues to be just me and five or six friends maybe and now parking lot and i think the pandemic has made it even more so where a lot of people. That's how they wanna get outdoors or they've they've just kind of discovering it because they know it is one of the only ways to be outdoors so i think it's going to continue to grow which i think is great because then more people are connected to the natural world which obviously makes them care about it more. How did you get into meredith like what. What was your journey into bed watching. I mean i liked birds always in the yard growing up in ohio. You know the robbins and the blue jays. There was a hill in town. And i used to ride my bike up in the hill early in the morning and i would always see birdwatchers and i said when i'm old air quotes. I'm going to bird watch. And i kind of that seed was planted but i didn't really bird-watching until my three say in my thirties. I started volunteering for the san francisco. Bay national wildlife refuges. That you know are on the perimeter of the bay. You know them well getting restored a lot of them Back to title harsh. And i when i volunteered i would be doing everything from pulling out. Invasive plants to building shells but there are always birds around and i just became more and more and more fascinated with the birds invested in binoculars and just started creeping in. You join the audubon society and suddenly you're getting news about different outings and the next thing you know you're you're pretty far in foreign now. I'm foreign. I'm not pretty far and have taken a couple bird vacations. Which i think says that. I'm pretty far in. But what do those entail. The longest trip i took was to go to brazil to the pantanal. Which is a very large wetland like the mecca of bud watching their many mecca. It is a mecca over the course of two weeks. We just went out every morning. We get up before sunrise. Be moving by six o'clock at the latest. Usually more like five thirty and we went to a place that's called the parrot crater a giant sinkhole. And it's all a lot of parents live down in the sinkhole. And so you look down. A new parrots lying around in a simple it was tremendous and we ended up seen two hundred different species of birds there along with some giant giant eaters river otter is and it was quite a trip but the birds were spectacular.