Tuesday, 16 May 2017




BirdsConTour salutes heroes that take action in bird conservation

Photos and text by Stefan Rust

(In terms of the Geneva Convention the copyright of these texts belong to Stefan Rust)

Last weekend, Namibia celebrated its heroes to ensure that they do not get forgotten and to show the public the road to go.
BirdsConTour made use of this opportunity to identify active heroes in bird conservation.

The intention is to make the public aware of that real heroes are inbetween us and to show people that real heroes do not talk a lot but are working with a real commitment and passion. Instead of talking about bird conservation, heroes help birds on a daily base.

BirdsConTour spent this hero weekend in driving about 400 km, searching for heroes in bird conservation. On the first day of the journey, BirdsConTour found the youngest hero – Nino Leicher. As a „Young Birder“, 12 years of age, Nino and his sister and mother were on their way to Lüderitzbucht when they stopped for a break at the turnoff to Schlipp (B1/D1254) down south in Namibia. Here Nino got aware of the rubbish lying around and started picking up empty bottles and plastics. Only a coward wouldn’t pick up rubbish reasoning it might be embarrassing if someone sees him collecting rubbish next to this traffic loaded B1 road. But it takes a hero like Nino Leicher to realize the threat the rubbish might cause to birdlife and other wildlife and trying to make a difference in saving birdlife by taking action instead of just talking and complaining about the lots of rubbish in Namibia. What young a hero for this age!

Young hero - Nino Leicher

The next evening, having spent some interesting birding hours during the day on Farm Gauchas, the farmer kept me from closing the entrance door of the farmhouse. Surprisingly Mr. Argo Rust said that the martins are not in the house yet. He said every night when he is on the farm, a pair of Rock Martins roost above the light in the study room. Only after they have settled on their roosting place, he closes the door for the night. These tiny little birds live together with him under one roof, the birds benefiting from the safety and the warmth the inside of the house give them and know that Argo is their friend.
At about six o’clock the next morning we woke up by a soft melodious twittering. This, Mr. Rust said, is his morning alarm clock, the martins. After having circled a few rounds through the study and his bedroom, he then opens the entrance door and out they fly for their daily work. This time of the year nest building is an exhausting work they have to accomplish.
Being absent from the farm for a night or two to do shopping in Windhoek for example, he says he feels sorry for his two feathered friends, because then they need to sleep outside under the roof of the terrace.
But when I asked about the droppings of the birds during the night, he responded: „Only one dropping per night, this doesn’t bother me at all. For me allowing them a safe shelter, they in return sort out the insects during daytime around my garden. I don’t need to invest in insect poison, my feathered friends catch them.“
I can only say I was surprised. He is another hero in bird conservation that should be saluted!

Feathered friends

Bewildered by these experiences I returned to Windhoek, Namibia’s Capitol, visiting Mrs. Heidi Rust and her son for lunch in their tiny little garden on heroes day. Coincidentally it was feeding time in this 5 x 8 m piece of garden. Heidi and Heiko put out a bit of everything trying to cater for all type of birds, from fruit, seed, porridge, nectar, water and surprisingly also nesting material in a nest material suspender. Realizing my astonishment, Heidi replied: „We human take so much nature and with it food, nesting space and nesting material with our streets, houses and industry, so the least we can do is giving back to these wild birds, including nesting material.“ Me being overwhelmed by the many birds flying in from all directions, she continued: „Yesterday we observed the White-backed Mousebirds filling their beaks with the offered nest material and carrying it to their nest up their in this tree“ pointing up into a small tree in her garden.
Wow, what heroes Heidi and Heiko are!
Altogether I counted 18 bird species during the course of the delicious lunch in this bird friendly garden.

Heiko being busy building a fruit feeder for the wild birds while Heidi hangs it on a convenient place in their bird friendly garden.

My challenge: for one year, let’s have less big talks and instead, let’s see that time and money spent on helping wild birds in real and meaningful ways. As this weekend proofed: Heroes achieve big things by doing small things right!

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