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By Marisa Bischoff, Important Bird and Biodiversity Area Conservation Assistant, Bird Studies Canada

As a bird lover, I’m sure friends have often approached you with questions about these fascinating animals. “What kind of bird is this? Where can I see them? Why do they do what they do?” This summer, I have been stationed inside the Vancouver Aquarium to help answer these burning questions and many others – part of my work as a summer student with Bird Studies Canada.
I’m having a great time talking about our feathered friends, both with fellow bird nerds and with beginners of all ages who are ready to “spread their wings.”  I am also telling them about volunteer opportunities with Bird Studies Canada’s Citizen Science programs. It’s exciting to introduce this fun way to enjoy nature with families and friends (while contributing to research and conservation) to those who have never before participated in Citizen Science.
Some of my conversations with locals and with visitors from around the world centre on the conservation issues impacting birds in Canada. In particular, I am spreading awareness about the significance of the Fraser River Estuary to birds and about the pressures on this ecosystem. Most of the visitors I encounter at the aquarium don’t know that the Fraser River Estuary is internationally recognized as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area that supports hundreds of thousands of migratory birds every year!
I strongly believe that people are more likely to support conservation efforts when they understand the value of protecting areas such as the Fraser River Estuary. The best feeling is when people walk away from me with a newfound interest in birds, and knowing something they didn’t know before.
Eagle-eyed visitors to the Vancouver Aquarium will most likely find me at Steller’s Bay (amidst a chorus of melodic sea lions and with my friend Harvey, the taxidermied heron) on Fridays and Saturdays until the end of August. Otherwise, simply ask for the “Bird Lady,” and you will surely be pointed in the right direction.

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