American Birding Association flocks to Delaware
Published: Monday, September 30, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013 23:09
A new change is coming to Delaware, as the American Birding Association will move its headquarters from Colorado Springs, Colo. to the first state in 2014. Its new home will be located at Delaware City’s historic Central Hotel.
The ABA is a nonprofit organization founded in 1968. The ABA’s website states the group has been providing an outlet for birders to increase their knowledge and skills of birding through leadership and safe recreational activities for more than 40 years.
Their website also states the ABA still stands as the only organization in North America that is specifically for recreational birding.
Alan Kneidel is currently studying neotropical songbird migrants in Apalachicola, Fla. for his master’s degree in Natural Resources at Delaware State University. He said the East Coast has something to offer in terms of a birding experience.
“Packed within Delaware’s 2,500 square miles are some of the premier birding hotspots on the east coast, including Delaware Bay, Bombay Hook and Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge,” Kneidel said. “The tiny state boasts around 405 recorded species, including a long list of mega-rarities that have drawn birders from around the country.”
The relocation allows the ABA to be situated in the midst of several tourism-based areas. The headquarters will now be “positioned in the midst of the population center of the country and are within short distance of several premier birding locations, such as Cape May, N.J. and the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge,” Kneidel said.
The Mid-Atlantic region in general has a large population and many ABA members are stationed in the area, said current president of ABA Jeffrey Gordon. The ABA 2012 membership and proxy ballot took place in Wilmington, and the response received from the community and state officials from Delaware to the ABA was what helped bring the organization to Delaware according to Gordon.
“The support we received from the state of Delaware really helped make the move happen, and we are looking forward to the state of Delaware and groups in the region to do innovative things and develop approaches to be used elsewhere,” Gordon said. “We want people to have a direct tangible connection to the organization.”
Tim Schreckengost, a master’s candidate in wildlife ecology at the university, said he believes the new location is beneficial economically and environmentally.
“The presence of the ABA should, and hopefully will, spread awareness for areas in desperate need of conservation for not only birds but plants, mammals and the other flora and fauna found in Delaware,” Schreckengost said. “I think small business will benefit from this move as well, as most birders and bird watchers tend to visit and seek out local businesses rather than large chains.”
Wildlife ecology professor Christopher Williams said bringing the ABA to Delaware will provide bird enthusiasts with a new environment to relish in their hobby and be a positive force in the Delaware community.
“Having ABA's commitment to education and birding recreation at the center of this tremendous [organization], will be an amazing resource to promote future conservation of [birding]," Williams said.
Even though renovations are not yet complete on the Central Hotel, Schreckengost said he already plans to visit the new headquarters.
As for the organization, the outlook will still be the same both nationally and internationally. The ABA is currently serving 44 countries with the hope of expanding knowledge about birding. The organization also includes youth programs where young bird enthusiasts can become accustomed to the unique experience that the ABA offers.
“When you open your eyes to birding, you see things you missed before,” Gordon said.