Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Guest Blogger Donmanic Kostin for World Migratory Bird Day

Donmanic uses biofacts like this owl foot in TRC's lobby
to share his enthusiasm for teaching and learning about raptors.
Today is World Migratory Bird Day, and this Saturday is International Migratory Bird Day.  In honor of those days, we asked several guest bloggers to give their thoughts on the world we share with migratory birds. 

Our first guest is Donmanic Kostin, who has been a lobby assistant at TRC since October 2016.  With his enthusiasm and willingness to help out wherever needed, he pitches in with food preparation for the education birds, and interpreting to the public.  He is from Vladivostok, not far from Russia's border with China, and is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota, in the Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology.  This summer, Donmanic will travel to Malaysia to study clouded leopards, and hopefully continue research in his interest in tigers in his region.  

“Prior to volunteering at The Raptor Center, my life had very little to do with the birds I love so much now. The city and country I lived in focused almost exclusively on having more convenience stores of which I found to be quite boring. Taming eagles, bonding with falcons sounds great but were ancient crafts only practiced by the fur-wearing people among the Ural Mountains. Urban people from my city would only dream about living in such a charismatic way with nature.
Such is what portrayed me, upon coming to the United States and starting to volunteer at The Raptor Center.

Starting as a lobby assistant volunteer, I was able to sit at my front desk and just observe normal American citizens working at The Raptor Center. It was really amazing. Prior in my life I have never seen people to actually care about “these birds”. I would even be concerned when a trainer puts his face close to an eagle, since Russians would only imagine aggression to be done from it. That by the modern way of training birds we can live with them peacefully and stimulate both of our interests struck me very deeply. The traditional Mongolian way of taming eagles - mutual starving until one side gives up - suddenly appears very primitive and rightfully belongs to the lore of history.

When there are visitors checking out TRC education birds I, as a lobby assistant, would quite “shamelessly” entertain them with some interesting facts related to the birds. I would see the visitors become genuinely impressed. And I would feel the same with them. The diverse species of raptor we house at TRC possess qualities that are worthy of appreciation in an extremely unique way. Only too often, I would wish that these birds could make an appearance in the cities I used to live.
I think the surroundings of our own lives is something worthwhile to care about and perhaps monitored closely. People who have driven the raptors away may never see them again. Such realization made me start to care about my own environment. What species of bird is it that sings on my window? Why is it not singing today? Such questions are what I ask myself to understand the changes around me and capture the broader environmental community of which I am but a humble member.

After my graduation, I wish to pass the idea of TRC to other places in the world. I believe that even the most ordinary people can immerse in the raptors’ beauty. I believe that we are capable of living with these birds with a sense of harmony and mutual appreciation. Such idea needs time and effort to be established outside the United States, and I am willing to devote my career on such idea.”

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