Blog-erview with Pete Dunne
Perhaps you know Pete through his books, talks or field trips. He currently serves as vice president of natural history information for New Jersey Audubon Society and editor of "New Jersey Audubon Magazine." He played a pivotal role in the first World Series of Birding, a 24-hour competition in Jersey to raise funds for conservation, with Roger Tory Peterson in 1984. Pete also participates on WildBird's Advisory Board and humored my request for a duck photo when we met in 2004 as well as answers to the following questions.
Did a specific event/species encourage you to start birding?
Yes. A neighborhood chum named Donna showed up at our house with binoculars and a field guide -- birthday gifts from her grandparents (I believe). Said Donna: "Let's go on a bird hike." So we did. O'dark thirty the next morning. Been doing it ever since.
What's the secret to remaining functional during the 24-hour World Series of Birding?
It's easy. Just keep finding lots of birds. They keep you awake.
Do you have a nemesis bird, and if so, which species?
Hmmm. Nemesis bird. No. I think I'm on pretty good terms with all the birds I've met.
What do you consider the most pressing issue for birders to address?
Oh, it's got to be headgear! Birders will wear the most tasteless and outlandish hats. Where are the Indiana Joneses of birding, the Crocodile Dundees?
Describe your dream birding trip: who, where, when, why, how long, which species.
Me. Everywhere. Both sides of now. Why? You're kidding, right? From the diaper to the shroud. All of 'em.
How do you feel about rubber ducks?
Can't get enough of them. Love 'em on corn flakes. Great fire starters if your wood is wet.
Are you working on a book now?
When am I not working on a book? There are actually four in the hopper now: one in production, two in the final stages of writing, one in the hopper, one being negotiated. I guess that makes five. Good think I'm a writer and not an accountant.
How do you encourage the next generation of birders?
By encouraging parents and guardians to give kids the latitude to just go birding and have a great time! But I'm also a big supporter of the Take a Kid Birding initiative (which pretty much encourages parents to do just that).
Do Ivory-billed Woodpeckers still exist?
I don't know. They did a couple of years ago. Haven't heard anything lately; have you?
How would you describe Roger Tory Peterson to someone who's not familiar with his work?
Frankly I think I'd have a tougher time finding someone not familiar with Roger's work. But if I did come upon such a person, I'd take them to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary on the 17th of September or Crane Creek on the second weekend in May or the finish line at the World Series of Birding and tell them to look all of the faces flushed with excitement. Then I'd explain: "Roger did that."
Describe your worst birding experience.
Refer to the next question.
Will you ever get your face painted during Autumn Weekend?
Refer to the previous question.