Chloe Walker

    I'm a seventeen-year-old, homeschooled birder from Tennessee. My interest in birds began in 2009 after playing with my mom's camera and photographing the birds in our backyard. I asked for a field guide for my birthday in 2010, and I received the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern North America, which I used to identify the birds I had photographed. I stared at that book for hours. My mom, not sure what to think about my sudden interest in birds, searched online and found a bird walk scheduled at a local wetland as a part of the Great Backyard Bird Count in 2011. I consider this my official start as a birder. The group we had gone with recommended that I check out a small bird club that had monthly outings around our city. After joining this club, I was again pointed to another group of birders, the Nashville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society (NTOS). Each spring, the NTOS organizes six weekly bird walks at Radnor Lake in Nashville. Attending the first one that year was magical. A whole different world had opened up to me. I was in awe of the birders I had met, each of whom had overwhelming knowledge, and I was amazed at the new birds I had seen, which had seemed only mythical before. I knew birding was definitely something I wanted to keep learning and doing. It all snowballed from there. Although I am not as active in the NTOS as I used to be, I occasionally lead field trips in Middle Tennessee (a schedule can be found here).
    Just after I began birding, I heard about the ABA Young Birder of the Year Contest where young birders across the U.S. can compete for first place by submitting a variety of bird-related material. I participated a couple times before I finally placed first in 2014.
    Around the same time, one of my experienced birding mentors, who was a leader for Seabirding, threw out the possibility of pelagic birding. It sounded brilliant to me, but I never thought I'd be able to go. However, to my surprise, my parents planned a family vacation to Hatteras, North Carolina, in 2013. I got to do my first pelagic that week, and although I had fun, I didn't become obsessed until the following spring when I returned yet again and we had an epic day at sea with numerous rarities. I got to do two more pelagics during that trip, and on the last day, I was absolutely shocked to hear that I could become a "junior leader" for Seabirding! It was an exceptional honor. We returned to Hatteras, now our favorite vacation spot, several more times, and each trip I got to help out on the boat as a junior leader. Finally, in June of 2016, I was promoted to an official "leader". My knowledge of pelagic birds has immensely increased, and my love of pelagic birding still remains.
    I go birding whenever I can. I'm an avid state, county, and yard lister and a faithful eBirder. I like to take photos to document rare sightings and commemorate lifebirds. If interested, check out my Flickr account, where I post a variety of bird and nature photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cawrarities/.
See you in the field (or at sea) sometime!

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