Local Boy Wins National Contest

updated Sept. 4

By Samantha SLAYBACK

How many individuals can say they’ve stopped to observe and appreciate a bird today? Aside from the rare and exciting eagle sighting, not many people pay much attention to birds in their day-to-day lives. However, for 12-year-old Dessi, they are his passion, and he has made the observation and conservation of these feathered-friends his personal mission.

Local eighth-grader Dessi Sieburth has been bird watching since he was 8 years old and two years later began his work to help protect them. He has been working on various conservation projects ever since, all leading up to a recent contest submission to the American Birding Association (ABA).

The 2015 ABA Young Birder of the Year contest is a national contest that is split into two age groups: 10-to-13 years old, and 14-to-18 years old. For each age group, there are numerous categories in which contestants may enter. Dessi entered both the “conservation” and the “field and sketch notebook” categories for his age group.

Photo provided by Schwarz Family The love for birds earned Dessi Schwarz first place honors by the American Birding Association.
Photo provided by Schwarz Family
The love for birds earned Dessi Sieburth first place honors by the American Birding Association.

“Dessi did many projects for the contest, such as giving a presentation to his school and at a local Audubon chapter about how to help our local birds,” said Dessi’s mother, Beatrix Schwarz. “Dessi also put up nest boxes to help the western bluebirds which live in our neighborhood and led bird walks for kids.”

Dessi’s submission also included an article he wrote for the Crescenta Valley Weekly, discussing different ways to help birds. In his article he went into detail about ways to keep birds safe by keeping cats inside, not using rat poisons, and putting paper hawks in windows to keep birds from flying into them, among other methods.

Not long after his submission, Dessi received a phone call from one of the judges and ABA president informing him that not only was he the winner in both categories he’d entered, but the overall winner of his age group as well.

“The contest was hard work and a lot of fun,” said Dessi. “I learned that I can make big differences for the birds by monitoring nest boxes, fundraising money for saving their habitats, and writing about what people can do to help our local birds.”

As a prize for his win, Dessi received a pair of Leica binoculars, which he plans to use for his future bird watching endeavors. He also plans to continue his conservation efforts. In the past, his photos of birds have been exhibited in the La Crescenta Library and starting on Aug. 8 his photos will be on sale at Diggs in Montrose.

“Thirty percent of the sales go towards the California condor, one of our local endangered birds,” said Beatrix. “At his exhibits he also gives presentations about what people can do to help our local birds.”

Dessi’s exhibit at Diggs, located at 3819 Ocean View Blvd. in Montrose, will be open until Sept. 2.

Both Dessi and his mother expressed special thanks to the ABA, Pasadena Audubon, L.A. Audubon, and Crescenta Valley Weekly for getting the word out about birds.