This Kit is for the Birds!

An idea that just took off!

Rich Sobel
4 min readJul 24, 2019


A few years ago, Karen Devitt from Bird Studies Canada had a brilliant idea! Create a Birdwatching Kit that people could borrow to go birdwatching and learn about birds. She got funding from MEC, the Wild Birds Unlimited store in Vancouver and Vortex Optics to buy the supplies for these kits.

Each kit, pictured below, contains:

There was only enough funding for a few kits. Bird Studies Canada could lend them to people participating in their guided walks and for the annual Christmas Bird Counts that happen all across North America.

An interesting side story, the Christmas count was started in 1900 by Frank M Chapman, ornithologist and officer of the newly formed Audubon Society.

He developed it in response to a tradition prior to 1900 known as the Christmas “Side Hunt”. Hunters would choose sides and then go out and kill as many birds and small animals as they could for the day. The team that brought back the most carcasses, won.

A far cry from today’s environmental standards! But those were different times and long ago.

Chapman was concerned about the effects such actions were having on bird populations so he wrote an article for the Society’s journal, Bird-Lore, that proposed people go out and count birds rather than kill them.

More than a 100 years later, we’re still counting them! Such is the way of a good idea.

But binoculars and books can get expensive and not everyone can afford to own them. This is why Ms Devitt’s idea started to gain momentum. In 2018, the Stewardship Centre for BC offered to support the Delta, BC Bird Studies office. After a roundtable in August with over 150 people, the participants helped fund an additional 4 Backpack kits. These were shared with the Thompson-Nicola Regional



Rich Sobel

Simple explanations of complex biology topics | fascinating plants and creatures | | politics | health | wellness | decolonization |