Bird ecologist Brad Jacobs keeps a close eye on Missouri's feathered friends.
Q: What does a bird ecologist do?
A: I study birds to learn which ones need help from conservationists. I also wor k with people in Missouri and people in other states and countries to improve bird habitat.
Q: Why do you work with people in other states and countries?
A: Because birds fly, they can migrate elsewhere to find food. To protect Missouri’s birds, we have to protect habitat in all the places birds might end up, from Canada to Brazil.
Q: Do you get many questions from birdwatchers?
A: Yes, I get lots — easy and hard ones. During a radio interview I enjoyed a question about a rare gull that had shown up in Missouri. The host asked, “How did it get here? ” I said, “I think it flew here.” I couldn’t resist.
Q: What’s the worst part of your job?
A: I love my job, but there are hazards. Once, I was walking inside an old barn looking for barn owls. I searched the rooms on the creaky first floor but decided it was too dark to climb around the second floor. When I returned at daylight, after a strong wind had passed through, the barn was flat on the ground.
Q: What’s the best part of your job?
A: I enjoy being able to walk outside and know who’s there with me: plants, animals, and especially birds.
Nichole LeClair Terrill