Greetings ABA readers! My name is Justin Cale, and I’ll be a contributing blogger for the ABA. I’ll be dropping in from time to time, bringing you all stories from my travels and adventures, as well as highlighting many of the issues that face the birds we all love so much. So now, a little about me…
I started birding four years ago, so I’m still very new to the birding world. I took a trip to Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area with a dear friend, having no idea what birding even was, but I thought I’d give it a try. I had no more than stepped out of the car when he pointed out an amazing adult American Bald Eagle perched in a tree twenty yards away. I was hooked!
A short time afterwards, we made a trip north to Magee Marsh. I borrowed my friend’s back-up camera, wanting to try to capture some of the birds that I’d become enamored with. We met Kenn Kaufman along the boardwalk, himself photographing birds for his next field guide. I had no idea who he was, but noted that he was incredibly generous in taking time to talk with me about warblers, particularly the Cape May that he was photographing. Later that afternoon, at the west end of the boardwalk, a vibrant Townsend’s Warbler was pointed out to me. I couldn’t understand why so many people were so excited about this bird, but I was thrilled to have seen it just the same. I didn’t find out until later that day how rare a bird it was in Ohio. Though I did not get a photo of the Townsend’s, I got some terrible photos of a few other warblers, and from that moment on, my birding world was intertwined with photography.
Fast forward just over four years, and so much has changed. I am the Central Regional Director for the Ohio Ornithological Society, working to bring birds to the folks here in central Ohio, both through education and conservation efforts. My photos have been published in multiple forums. I write blog posts on the “Notes From the Wild Side” blog for Wildside Nature Tours. I manage and contribute online content for a few organizations. And now I get to write for all of you. Life as of late has been a whirlwind!
I now fight, write, and contribute in every way I can to advance many kinds of conservation initiatives, from birds, to land/habitat retention, to climate change. Through the lens of my camera and my words, I strive to stir emotions and connect people in such a way that they can stand for these initiatives themselves and lend their voices to the many issues we face daily in the fight to keep our wild places wild, and our birds flying free. The great Aldo Leopold once said “Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.” I look forward to connecting with you all through my words and photos. Saving the birds we love starts when we all come together. When we share and speak. When we stand. Together, we can move mountains!
A special thank you goes out to Jeff and Liz Gordon, and my many other friends at the American Birding Association. Without the inspiration and dedication you all have shown, as well as your friendship, I may never have made it to where I am today. I love my bird family. Thank you for the opportunity to spread my wings and speak my mind!