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13-year-old bird watcher looks out for his feathery friends

Wildlife photographer and educator Liam Singh hopes to raise awareness for declining bird population by sharing photographs and leading bird-watching tours.

Liam Singh hopes to raise awareness for declining bird populations through his photography work

Liam Singh studies the gaze of a saw-whet owl. (Liam Singh/Flickr)

When most people walk into a park on a bright sunny day, the sound of birds chirping might seem like faint background noise.

But when Liam Singh goes for a walk near Swan Lake in Saanich, B.C., he'll listen for the courtship calls of the flicker, the mating drum of the woodpecker, or the strange song of the marsh wren.

"It kind of sounds like a weird typewriter," he told host Sheryl MacKay on CBC's North by Northwest.

The avid birder is known for his vibrant photographs of birds in their natural habitat. When he's away from the field, he works with the Royal B.C. Museum to help preserve bird skins for hundreds of years.

And, he's only 13 years old.

A rare image of a black-throated sparrow; only three have ever been recorded on southern Vancouver Island. (Liam Singh/Flickr)

Bring on the feathers

Singh said his father began taking him out to look at snakes, sea life, and birds when he was nine and that those nature walks piqued his interest in wildlife.

Soon after, he began taking bird watching and photography up as a hobby. He now has a library of hundreds of stills that have amassed thousands of views online.

When he's not at school, he leads bird walks, and has a part time job at the RBCM's  mammal and bird prep lab where he skins birds for preservation.

"It's quite fascinating — you can get right inside and see all the different things that make them so diverse."

Cooper's Hawk stands atop a beaten prey in Beacon Hill Park, Victoria B.C. (Liam Singh/Flickr)

The talented photographer's interests are growing. He's also began collecting close stills of butterflies, dragonflies, and even spiders.

"Hopefully it will be mammals and plants and sea life next," he said.

A grey horned owl peers down towards the camera. (Liam Singh/Flickr)

With a portfolio that would put most high schoolers to shame, Singh's future is bright. But, he wants to continue to educate others about the threats posed to the North American bird population.

Nearly a third of bird species in the continent are threatened with extinction. The declining populations are often the result of human activities, such as logging or oil spills.

An extreme close up of the Phidippus johnsoni in Victoria, B.C. (Liam Singh/Flickr)

Singh hopes his work will raise awareness as to the many threats these animals face.

Perhaps one day, he'll become part of the solution.

Four chick barn swallows are hungry for their next meal. (Paul Singh/Flickr)

With files from CBC's North by Northwest


To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: 13-year-old bird watcher and photographer looks out for his feathery friends