#teambirdnerd: Dr Holly Parsons

Yes, I admit it, I am a bird nerd. It is a badge I wear with pride.

I am one of the very very fortunate few whose love of birds has translated into a paid job. Finding employment in an area you are passionate about it tough enough, let alone in this field so I am aware of just how lucky I am.

My love of birds started, like most, in childhood. My first pet was a canary called Jenny and growing up we had quite a few pet birds including some that we handraised. My dad was the parent that got us out and connected with the natural world (mum was keeping us all feed, looking after the house and running us around to our activities) - he was always showing us interesting wildlife and encouraging us to explore and play outside. I have one memory of us all walking home from a neighbour's birthday party and finding a small bird of prey in the gutter. Whilst dad referred to it as a 'chickenhawk' I can still see it in my mind and it was a Nankeen Kestrel. We took the bird home, looked after it and about a week later it was well enough to be released. Now I would NEVER suggest anyone attempt this now. Remember if you find an injured bird please contact your local wildlife rescue group or take it to a vet. However, the way that we were able to help that one bird has stayed with me - and I think has shaped how we approach the Birds in Backyards Program: we can all play a role in helping individual birds in our own space - and all that help adds up to big change for birds and wildlife in general.

Fast forward to now, and most of my day doesn't actually involve birding at all. Instead at any given time I am busy writing, answering emails, planning projects, running workshops or talking to media. Talking to people about birds is a joy though - everyone has a bird story, even if you don't consider yourself a 'birder' and I really enjoy hearing about what other people have experienced. Having said that, any opportunity to actually see some birds is very welcome and I always have my eyes and ears peeled. When I was on maternity leave I thought I was hallucinating from lack of sleep when 5 (yes 5) Pacific Baza landed in my local park and I took great delight in stumbling across the resident Powerful Owl in the Royal Botanic Gardens whilst leading some bird walks earlier this year. Even in our most urban of spaces there is always the chance to see something great and I love that I can help people to appreciate that.

I wear my #teambirdnerd badge with pride.

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