Boy Scout Troop 186 from Loveland visited northern Cherokee Park this fall. They attended a camp out to earn their Bird Study merit badge. What could have been more inspiring than to have these boys step out of their vehicle and into a flock of blue grouse? These birds were so wild that they didn’t fear the Boy Scouts.
The blue grouse accompanied the boys to their campsite, perched in a pine, and then oversaw the boys cooking lunch at their “leave no trace” campsite. This is a once-in-a-lifetime sighting and some of the boys will never again see this bird.
The boys spent the weekend learning that birds are a useful indicator of broader environmental change, and a useful indicator of species richness and endemism patterns.
The Boy Scouts demonstrated that they knew how to use binoculars and field guides. They enjoyed “stalking” over 20 species of wild bird — from red-tailed hawk to the Stellar’s jay.
They sketched and drew birds and built their own bird feeders. On the boys’ time off, they were able to visit free range chickens and guinea fowl. They could see and touch the feather and skeletal structure of the bird. Comparisons were made between dinosaur and bird behavior.
What a glorious opportunity to introduce another aspect of Northern Colorado’s wilderness beauty to today’s youth. The boys were astounded to learn that Bird Study is one of the most unpopular merit badges.
Troop 186 plans on returning to Cherokee Park to complete a conservation project next year.
Our future lies with young men and women who are concerned with conservation and all aspects of our environment. Hats off to Troop 186 — we expect great things from you!