Anna belongs to Troop 63572 in Colorado, US. As a girl approaching the last of her scouting years, she decided to undertake a project called the Gold Award. The Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn; the equivalent of the Eagle Award, it is a massive take action project.
For the Gold Award, a girl must design and implement a plan to address a root cause of an issue, involving her community, passing her project onto another, and reaching national and global audiences. Sounds like a lot? It is. Girl Scouts are recommended to spend at least 80 hours working on their project, but often go over—these projects can take years!
Having developed a passion for birds at an early age, Anna decided to focus on bird conservation for her Gold Award. However, she struggled with making the project original (which is a requirement for the Gold Award). How was her project going to be different from the work of other bird conservation organizations?
The answer was found demographically. Anna noticed, while researching bird-window collisions, that shorter buildings impact bird populations more (even compared to skyscrapers), because they were more of them. It seemed to Anna that bird conservation organizations usually focus on skyscrapers. And so, Anna made her project specifically target homeowners, hence this site being a "home" guide, to tackle these shorter buildings.
This website synthesizes everything Anna learned during her project. The intended purpose is for the public to use this site to make their homes more bird-friendly.
After graduating high school (and finishing her last year of Girl Scouts), Anna went on to attend Colorado State University. She is majoring in Biology.
Billy the Bird Visits the City
Written by Anna Hartwick and illustrated by Jesi Humphreys, Billy the Bird Visits the City follows Billy the Western Tanager on a journey to find his friend, Mallory. However, the journey isn't easy, and Billy faces cats, windows, and cars along the way!
This book was developed to introduce the obstacles birds face to kids in a fun, engaging format. It includes Discussion Questions at the end to reiterate the main takeaways. To purchase a copy, please link here.
Anna and her team conducted three presentations as part of her Gold Award. The corresponding handouts can be found at the Resources page (here). Here are the descriptions of each presentation:
The Top Two Threats to Bird: Cats and Windows
There are many human-related threats to birds. However, which threats are the largest? And how can everyday people, not just organizations and businesses, help? Join us to learn the statistics and the why behind windows and cats, the biggest threats to birds outside of habitat loss. Come and learn the ways cats and birds can coexist in a healthy relationship for both animals and inexpensive ways to deter bird-window collisions at your home.
The B's: Birdhouses, Birdbaths, and Bird-Friendly Backyards
As you may or may not know, there are many misconceptions about what a proper, functional birdhouse or bath looks like. There is a strict line between decorations and what actually works for birds—if you’re not sure where that line falls, come join us to learn! This presentation will also touch on other aspects of bird-friendly backyards, such as bird feeders and bird foods.
Why Should We Plant Native?
Most people have heard that they should plant native. And if someone were asked why, they should probably respond, “Because it’s good for the environment.” However, that answer doesn’t expand on the role native plants play in supporting complex natural systems—because it’s much more than that! Come learn about ecosystems, all the advantages native plants have, and the damage invasive species wreak.
Work With Denver Zoo
Anna tentively planned on "bird-proofing" some windows in the community—she wanted to, but she didn't know how realistic it was. Fortunately, her team and her were able to at the Denver Zoo! They applied CollidEscape Birdtape to 8 windows.
For anyone planning on using birdtape themselves, the team learned some valuable lessons. First, it's important to measure the windows and develop a plan, and this will take more birdtape than you think! Applying birdtape in straight lines can be tricky. Use painter's tape to mark how far you want the birdtape apart, and use two pieces of that tape to mark the beginning and end of the birdtape. Lastly, it helps greatly to have a 3 inch ruler!
Who Manages the Site Now?
This site is now managed by a youth program called Leaders in Training. The Leaders in Training, or LIT, program is sponsored by the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies at their Brighton office in Colorado.
This program allows teenagers to develop their leadership skills by volunteering at day camps for younger children. LITs help counselors manage campers, explain and demonstrate activities, and help the campers have more fun! Anna's project was added to their program.
Our Leaders in Training are a diverse group of young adults who are passionate about birds and kids. When not volunteering at day camps, they can be found discussing the latest bird they saw or the bird guide they want for their birthday.