Eyes To The Skies

Eyes To The Skies

photo illustration (Patrick Ginder and a Eurasian magpie)

By Maddy Cooper

As the sun beams on the rippling water, a picturesque sight appears. A large, milky white swan reaches its beak into a pond in the Netherlands.

Swan near water
Junior Patrick Ginder took this photo of a mute swan while vacationing in the Netherlands in July 2023. (Photo by Patrick Ginder)

It is surrounded by a crowd of similar looking birds. The swan captivates junior Patrick Ginder for nearly 20 minutes.

Ginder is an avid bird watcher.

“One day I was riding my bike, and I saw an awfully interesting bird,” Ginder says. “There was just something about the brilliant colors that had me infatuated with it.”

Although he does not remember the name of the specific bird he saw that day, the moment started his obsession nearly three years ago.

Now, he spends hours researching and observing birds around east central Indiana.

While bird watching, Ginder uses an app to help him identify the species of birds he sees. Ginder downloaded the Merlin Bird ID app from Cornell University’s ornithology department. This app was created to help guide bird watchers through the challenges that come with it. 

Merlin Bird ID
Patrick Ginder uses this app to help him identify birds.

Ginder has learned a multitude of bird calls that he uses on watches. He initially learned these calls from his good friend, junior Gauge Haire.

“He just busted [a bird call] out of nowhere one day, and I had to learn it,” Ginder says.

Although he hasn’t personally summoned any birds while using these calls, he has evoked lots of laughs by using them during class.

During his non-bird watching and calling hours, Ginder is a well-rounded student at Delta.

He’s a captain of the Academic Teams, where he uses his extensive vocabulary and quick smarts to aid his team at competitions for the Science Bowl, Quiz Bowl and Super Bowl.

“He’s quick, he knows random facts, and is willing to share that with everyone,” says Mr. Elijah May, Ginder’s Academic Team coach.

Ginder is also an active member of Student Council and Delta’s chapter of National Honor Society, with more than 20 service hours this year. 

After high school, Ginder plans to attend a four-year university with the help of scholarships.

While he is currently thinking about his future, Ginder also reminisces on a past bird watching experience. 

Last year, while on a trip to Utrecht, Netherlands with his mom, Ginder recalls the bright blue and white contrast and apparent cleverness of the Eurasian Magpie.

His absolute favorite bird.

The Eurasian Magpie, which is native to eastern Europe and Asia, caught Ginder’s eye while it was sitting in a tree. 

After seeing this rare sight while abroad, Ginder’s hobby has only grown. 

He still spends hours bird watching and learning new facts about local birds, such as how American crows have the intelligence of a seven-year-old child.

Ginder hopes this hobby will last a lifetime. With more than 1,000 bird species in the United States, he has a lot more to eventually see.

February 29, 2024

About Author

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maddycooper Maddy Cooper is a junior at Delta High School. She loves writing and hopes to be a sports journalist in the future. She plays tennis, and in her free time she loves to read, listen to Taylor Swift, and watch football or hockey.


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