Lutherville resident hopes kids flock to fledgling birding club

Baltimore Orioles Junior Birding Club draws youngsters ages 8-15

May 19, 2011|By Steve Jones

Marty Brazeau, of Lutherville, is used to keeping the noise down at his day job.

He likes the same peaceful environment when he heads outdoors.

Brazeau, the librarian at Fort Garrison Elementary School in Pikesville, also serves as coordinator of the Baltimore Orioles Junior Birding Club, affiliated with the Maryland Ornithological Society.

The club is open to youth ornithologists between ages 8 and 15.

"The reason that I started the Junior Birding Club about a year ago was that the Baltimore Birding Club is aging and losing members," said Brazeau, who grew up in Lutherville and still lives there.

"This program enables kids to get into bird-watching at an early age," he said. "I get more pleasure seeing a kid look at a bird than I do looking at them myself. We want kids that like birds to have an opportunity to get into the environment."

As part of the club's activities, the young birders locate, identify and study birds with binoculars, field guides, and iPod applications.

They record the birds they see and contribute data to an "ebird" website. In a larger sense, they learn about birds and their environment through hiking trips, including one held last Saturday at Cromwell Valley Park.

Among the club's members is Gwenyth Brummett, of Pikesville.

"I like all animals, and I like hiking as long as my feet don't get soaking wet," said Brummett, a third-grader at Fort Garrison Elementary who was trudging through the Saturday rain. "I've seen different birds, including a goldfinch, a woodpecker, an indigo bunting and a bluebird."

The program is designed to get young people like Gwenyth to think about the environment and the animals that live in the wild. According to her mother, the purpose of the club has not been lost on Gwyneth.

"I volunteer in Mr. Brazeau's library class, and when Gwenyth got the flyer (about the birding club) she raced up to me and said that she wanted to do this," said Andrea Brummett.

"She's wanted to be a veterinarian since she was 4 years old, and this is really her direction and focus. ... She's always been very geared toward animals."

Gwyneth's devotion to animals has been enhanced by the Junior Birding Club's activities.

"For her eighth birthday last year, Gwenyth didn't want her friends to bring her toys and gifts," her mother said. "Instead, she wanted them to bring donations for animals. This year, we're having her ninth birthday at the MSPCA (Maryland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)."

The chance to be closer to nature and animals also appeals to older kids, such as club member Hannah Moran.

"My mother found the website and thought it would be good for me to join," said 14-year old Hannah, a student at Loch Raven Academy. "I like to see the scarlet tanager, which is my favorite color bird."

Brazeau is happy to see young people make the exodus from their computers and video games to breathe in the fresh air and learn about birds.

"We go to different areas to watch birds, and the kids also learn about the plants and trees in the bird's environment," said Brazeau, who will be taking a group to the Youth Birding Weekend at Frostburg's Carey Run Sanctuary in early June.

"The nice thing about this program is that it goes year-round," he said. "Next year, we will have monthly programs and a week-long bird watching camp at Washington College.

"If the club gets big enough, I'd be interested in taking the kids and parents to Costa Rica, where I've made eight bird-watching trips."

For further information on the Baltimore Orioles Junior Birding Club, contact Marty Brazeau at tropicbirder@verizon.net. The club's website is baltimorebirdclub.org.

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