Avian Conservationist Hopes to Inspire Next Generation with Children's Book

Sep 1, 2017

Author Katie Fallon was inspired, in part, by her own children to write the book, Look, See the Bird! In the book, Fallon writes about children from different parts of the world. It's an imaginary trip across parts of the world, and the perspectives of migratory birds help guide the story.

Fallon is a board member with the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia, a non-profit group that’s dedicated to preserving the region’s wild birds. She’s currently teaching non-fiction writing classes at West Virginia Wesleyan College. 

She recently released a book called VULTURE: The Private Life of an Unloved Bird. West Virginia Public Broadcasting last spoke with Katie in 2011 after she released CERULEAN BLUES: A Personal Search for a Vanishing Songbird.

In this interview, Inside Appalachia host Jessica Lilly talk with Katie about the book she co-authored called, Look, See the Bird!

The children's book shares voices from kids observing birds in different countries. It also includes a scene from Cooper's Rock in West Virginia that was inspired by an actual visit with her own children.

"So Cooper's Rock State Forest is right up the road from us where we live outside of Morgantown," Fallon said. "So we go to Cooper's Rock very very often especially in the fall in the summertime. And when you sit at the overlook and watch that cheat river far below there are often Broadway hawks that fly just off the overlook."

Fallon says she wanted to encourage children to observe birds because birds often go overlooked and it's a great way to get outside.

"I think that sometimes in our everyday lives we forget that we are part of an ecosystem also," Fallon said. "We're not just you know walking around looking at our phones we're participating in an ecosystem with everything we do. And I think that birds can help connect us to that."

By including characters that are from different countries, the book introduces different cultures to children. 

"We wanted to show that birds are really the connection between kids from different cultures kids who speak different languages, kids who might never get to meet each other in real life," Katie said. 

Fallon also wanted to raise awareness about the rare birds in West Virginia.

"Cerulean warbler is the fastest declining songbird in North America and we have a lot of them here in West Virginia," she said. "We have more breadings and warblers than any other state. Cerulean spend the winters on coffee farms. They use coffee farms in Central America during migration and then some of them end up spending the winter on coffee farms in Colombia and Venezuela. Unfortunately since the 70's a lot of primary forests in the tropics has been cut down to make way for coffee."

Katies says she hopes the book sparks an interest in conservation, migration and culture for children.

This interview was part of the Inside Appalachia podcast in an episode called Hidden Gems Inside Appalachia.