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#gobirding Sharing the joy of birding

September 05 2019


#gobirding Sharing the joy of birding

Birding is a passion that many inspiring personalities share. Connected by their deep appreciation for all winged creatures, Austrian ornithologist and photographer Leander Khil and US urban naturalist Gabriel Willow hit it off right away when they went birding together in Lake Neusiedl - Seewinkel National Park. Gabriel usually offers free bird walks in Central and Bryant parks in New York City, while Leander works in many ornithological fields and loves to show people around his patch. Their fascination with nature is contagious.


“Birds are definitely my favorite category of organisms - they are charismatic, colorful, musical.” – Gabriel Willow

However, in general Gabriel Willow prefers to call himself an urban naturalist fascinated by the interconnected qualities of plant, animal, and fungal communities, and how they adapt to new settings like cities. Leander, on the other hand, focusses on birds when watching wildlife, because for him birds are one fabulous way to observe how the world and its nature works and constantly changes.

“Birding is more than a passion to me - birds are a decisive factor of how I live my life and how I look at planet Earth.” – Leander Khil

The US guide and the Austrian ornithologist both came to deepen their love relationship with nature through birding.

“Birding is a way to engage with our environment. Living a life in harmony with the world around us is a need of the hour.” – Leander Khil


Leander Khil - ornithologist, wildlife photographer, and birding guide at, e.g., Lake Neusiedl – Seewinkel National Park (AUT)


In order to feel strongly connected to the natural world surrounding us, you need to “spend time outdoors, closely observing the natural world, in order to realize that we're part of nature,” according to Gabriel Willow.

Both curious birders are inspiring people to get in touch and fall in love with nature through their work. Gabriel tries to impart the knowledge of people’s place within the natural harmony:

“I think the first step is developing a sense of place, and knowing what other forms of life are found around you. This can lead to a greater sense of connectedness and wellbeing, and hopefully to a more sustainable lifestyle overall.” – Gabriel Willow


Gabriel Willow - urban naturalist and environmental eductor for, e.g. New York City Autubon (USA)

Leander is very much convinced that everyone is enchanted by nature’s attractions.

“When we see and experience the intricate details, connections, and surprises of the natural world, we fall for it. Nobody can resist the wonders of nature.” – Leander Khil

No matter where you are, the forces and beauty of nature cannot be denied, as long as you care enough to look closely.

“I try to show people the incredible diversity of life that exists even in the middle of the city, from fireflies to birds to bats to whales. It's fun!” – Gabriel Willow

Both birdlovers are convinced that conservation is paramount and that people need to be educated about the incredible heritage that is biodiversity.

“Once you can put a name on something, it suddenly exists.” – Gabriel Willow

Through knowledge and understanding, people start to care for nature, according to Leander.

“The love for something grows, as soon as you see the complexity of it and understand the fascinating connections.” - Leander Khil

Suddenly you realize: everything is woven together. Everything is connected. Once you see the bigger picture, you cannot help but awe at the preciousness and wonder of life on our beloved planet.

It is also SWAROVSKI OPTIK’s mission to open people’s eyes to the beauty of nature and, in this way, help to preserve our natural resources. Because we are convinced that people protect the things they truly love.


About the birders:

Gabriel Willow 
Gabriel offers free bird walks in Central and Bryant parks in New York City on which he always has his EL 32 at hand. Thanks to his digiscoping equipment, he captures fascinating wildlife in the middle of the Big Apple.
For further reading, go to our article about city birding, follow Gabriel on Twitter or Facebook, or check the list of upcoming events at NYC Audubon.

Leander Khil
Leander works in many ornithological fields and has written a field guide of the birds of Austria ("Vögel Österreichs"). Accompanied by his EL 42 binoculars and BTX spotting scope, he goes birding at Lake Neusiedl – Seewinkel National Park several times a week.
For more information, check out Leander’s videologs on our website or visit his Instagram @leanderkhil and Facebook accounts.

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