Sonoma Valley High School students Christofer Goodman and Stephen Montano are, according to Sonoma Birding’s Tom Rusert, the embodiment of the Christmas Bird Count event.
“The Bird Count is one of those things that helps families encourage ‘citizen science’ by allowing their kids to get involved in nature and the outdoors,” says Rusert, whose parents raised seven boys on a steady diet of birding, baseball and Boy Scouts.
Goodman and Montano aren’t much different, having interest in the bird count at its inception five years ago. Rusert wouldn’t allow them to participate that first year when they were in fifth grade but the next, the eager sixth graders showed their mettle. Since then, the high school sophomore (Goodman) and junior (Montano) have grown up with the program, which is now national and five years strong. They were also instrumental in initiating the Christmas Bird Count for Kids, now in its third year and being held this Sunday, January 15.
Their original interest spurred by a now-retired teacher at Flowery school named Jim Tonery, the boys were into all sorts of animals from an early age. Today, they can each count more than 125 species of birds they’ve glimpsed in their short lives. And their interest has led to possible career interests as well. Montano is thinking about studying zoology while Goodman is interested in wildlife photography and cinematography.
“We’ve woven the boys into the fabric of the bird count and they’ve grown up with the structure so they understand the language of birding and of the bird count as well,” said Rusert. “They are now able to assist with every aspect of the count and they exemplify what we are trying to do. This type event offers a family a recreation and a sport that can be enjoyed for life.”
The Christmas Bird Count for Kids will be held Sunday, January 15 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., complete with binocular bootcamp, a half-mile hike and a tabulation ceremony. Meet at the Sonoma Community Center, the co-sponsor of the event. Registration is required and sign ups can be done at sonomabirding.com.