2018 is the Year of the Bird

Birds are fantastic photographic subjects.

There is just something aesthetically pleasing about them. The beauty of their flight, the color and texture of their feathers, their faces, beaks. The dynamic sunrises, sunsets and landscapes that make up the frame?

We at Backcountry Journeys love and appreciate birds. And for more than just great photographs. We previously discussed the intrinsic coolness of Alaskan Bald Eagles in a recent blog post.

Additionally our Wildlife of Costa Rica Tour is dedicated to photographing the wildlife there, much of which are our avien friends. Costa Rica boasts rare bird species such as toucans, scarlet macaws and the resplendent quetzal.

We’ve also touched on our newest trip to New Mexico in search of the Sandhill Cranes as they winter at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, south of Albuquerque.

Birds are important for many reasons. Here are some:

  • They keep systems in balance through pollinating plants, dispersing seed, scavenging carcass and recycling nutrients.

  • Birds protect our drinking water by preventing erosion, slow the spread of disease as well as provide critical environmental data.

  • Birds are obviously important members of many ecosystems. They are integral parts of food chains and food webs. In a woodland ecosystem for example, some birds get their food mainly from plants. Others chiefly eat small animals, such as insects or earthworms. Birds and bird eggs, in turn, serve as food for such animals as foxes, raccoons, and snakes. The feeding relationships among all the animals in an ecosystem help prevent any one species from becoming too numerous. Birds play a vital role in keeping this balance of nature. In addition to being important parts of food webs, birds play other roles within ecosystems.

  • They provide food for those who eat chicken, turkey, duck, etc

  • Last, but not least, they feed our human spirits. Migratory habits help to mark for us the passage of the seasons. Their beauty in flight moves us to create art such as photographs and even poetry, inspiring those of us who understand and appreciate their beauty and importance.

So, great. We agree birds are equal parts cool and important. Why the blog post about them at this moment?

Great question. With an estimated 1,200 species facing extinction over the next century, and many more suffering from severe habitat loss, the impulse to protect birds must be universal.


2018 marks the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the most powerful and important bird-protection law ever passed. In brief, the Treaty Act makes it illegal for anyone to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter, any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such a bird except under the terms of a valid permit issued pursuant to Federal regulations.

In honor of this milestone, National Geographic, the National Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and BirdLife International have joined with more than 100 other organizations and millions of people around the world and have declared 2018 as the “Year of the Bird.”

They’ll join forces for one year of storytelling and science to examine how our changing environment is impacting birds around the globe.

Click the links above to find interesting articles, and to help take action. You can sign up to receive one “simple action” you can take each month to help. And to learn more about birds in your world from leading organizations in science, exploration and conservation.

As nature photographers our passion often takes us out into nature. It is the only place we can obtain these images of these wild animals in their natural environments.

In our quest to make these images, and have wonderful visits to these majestic locales, we should always remember to hold these places and animals we visit in high regard, striving to treat the natural world ethically and simultaneously help to protect and promote our natural world.

Until next time.

Kenton Krueger







Kenton Krueger has spent the past several years guiding guiding backpackers, hikers and photographers into the wild places of the American West such as Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Parks as well as in the Grand Staircase Escalante in southern Utah. In addition to backpacking and camping, his adventures include rock climbing, exploring the slot canyons of southern Utah, mountain biking, and bagging 14ers in Colorado’s San Juan Mountain Mountain Range. Kenton is a trail runner, former pilot, newspaper photographer and writer. Kenton looks forward to utilizing his years of guiding experience, combined with his passion and experience behind the lens to provide memorable and unforgettable experiences at the wild places we will visit together.

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