This past spring, Northern Arizona Audubon Society helped two Boy Scouts, Will Liebe and Tristan Meriwether, earn their Bird Study Merit Badges. The Boy Scout Merit Badge Handbook outlines eight requirements Scouts need to do to earn to earn this badge. One of them was, “Show that you are familiar with the terms used to describe birds by sketching or tracing a perched bird and then labeling 15 different parts of the bird. Sketch or trace an extended wing and label six types of wing feathers.”
“I knew the two boys were winners when they came to our very first meeting with this requirement fulfilled,” said Debbie James, NAAS member working with the Scouts. “Both boys were genuinely interested in birds, and always came to our meetings with new things to tell us about birds they had seen recently. Even their family members were interested and very supportive. This made it lots of fun for me.”
The boys also were required to be able to identify at least 20 species of wild birds and, of those, be able to identify five of them by their bird song. This was accomplished by going on outings to Willow Bend and Walnut Canyon Lakes with Bea Cooley, NAAS co-president, and Zack Zdinak, NAAS field trip chair, who taught them how to focus their binoculars and how to use a field guide.
They also had to get information from last winter’s NAAS’ Christmas Bird Counts and identify which birds were common and uncommon. One afternoon Rich Clark helped them make bluebird nest boxes.
This is the second year that James has been working with local Boy Scouts to help them earn this badge. Last year, NAAS member, Bill Auberle, helped two Scouts build their bird houses, a bird feeder and a water fountain. Auberle’s own interest in birds was sparked by earning his Bird Study Merit Badge.
“It’s nice to know that Scouting has influenced young people to appreciate birds and the environment around them, and that this can become a lifelong interest. I look forward to serving as counselor next spring for this merit badge,” James said.